Judith Smith, Director of Policy, Nuffield Trust writes for HSMC viewpoint about Why we need to keep talking about gender and leadership. The original article and other posts for HSMC viewoint can be found here.
In 1987, like generations of NHS graduate management trainees, I made my way to Harrogate for the 2-day assessment centre which determined which bright-eyed and bushy-tailed graduates were to be admitted to the national scheme. I can still recall how surprised and impressed I was that the final appointments panel was chaired by a woman chief executive, and that she took time during the interview to talk to me about the NHS’ opportunities and support for women managers. Bear in mind that a similar interview for the then British Rail scheme, I had been asked why ever a woman would be interested in trains, and at another for the electricity supply industry, I found myself completely surrounded by male engineers and aspirant trainees.
So do we still need to keep talking about gender and leadership almost 30 years later, or is this yesterday’s issue? There seems to be more positive news for women where NHS management is concerned: between 60 and 70% of trainees entering the NHS graduate scheme in the past three years have been female, and 36%of NHS Chief Executives are women.