Ladders vs Challenges: Career Motivations Vary Between Men and Women in Health IT

As someone who has frequently been the sole female at the executive table, I’m acutely aware of the need to bring additional qualified female candidates into the field of healthcare IT. Each year, our firm conducts a market-wide Healthcare IT Careers and Compensation study that affords us an opportunity to explore trends related to professional motivators, job satisfaction, and compensation in our niche industry, including any gender-related variance that may exist.

Now in its sixth year of production, the 2018 market report summarized feedback from 488 healthcare IT professionals across the US. This year marked the first research period that the gender scales tipped, with more female (59 percent) than male (41 percent) healthcare IT professionals participating. Sixty-nine percent of respondents reported being currently employed in consulting or contract healthcare IT work, and 31 percent reported full-time employment with a healthcare organization.

A few general observations on the state of the healthcare IT industry from this year’s report:

  • The average compensation for healthcare IT professionals continues to rise. Since 2015, the average salary of a healthcare IT worker has increased 12 percent, from $93,960 to $107,146.
  • We’re seeing bonuses disappear. Sixty percent of healthcare IT professionals reported not receiving a bonus in 2017.
  • After medical, dental, and vision coverage, remote work options represent the top benefit healthcare IT professionals reported wanting. This has been consistent for three years running.

I’ll cut to the million-dollar compensation question we’re all wondering about: Was there a gender wage gap? We anticipated one and our suspicions were confirmed. Of those who chose to anonymously share their salary information, women reported making $1,371.97 less on average than men in healthcare IT.

While less pronounced, the wage gap that our data reveals supports pay gap findings reported in similar industry studies. The 2018 HIMSS U.S. Compensation Study revealed that, on average, women in digital health make 18 percent less than their male peers. A 2018 Physician Compensation Report from Doximity suggests the divide is even greater among clinicians, with female doctors reportedly earning 28 percent less than their male counterparts.

It’s interesting to note that — despite the wage gap — the HIMSS survey found no differences between men and women on reported satisfaction with compensation. Our 2018 study found that men were more likely to report overall job satisfaction – 32 percent of men reported being highly satisfied in their current role compared to 24 percent of women.

Overall, study participants rated satisfaction with a job well done, career progression, and professional challenge as the top three sources of inspiration at work. Longevity was ranked lowest as the primary reason for respondents being inspired in their current role. These growth-over-comfort sentiments were echoed in other findings. Fifty-six percent of contracted consultants said they would consider a full-time role and 94 percent of full-time employees said they would consider taking a consulting role.

Higher salary was rated as the top priority for both contracted consultants and full-time employees considering a new job opportunity. Analysts identified several differences between men and women regarding top drivers when exploring new job prospects:

  • Men (61 percent) were more likely to prioritize career progression than women (51 percent).
  • Women (55 percent) were more likely to prioritize new challenges than men (41 percent).
  • Women (40 percent) were more likely to prioritize the commute and proximity to work than men (33 percent).

Salary, career progression, and culture were cited as the top three overall reasons for professional dissatisfaction.

Findings point to the important role that different employment drivers can play as organizations seek to recruit more female healthcare IT professionals. These studies give hiring organizations focus areas to look at when developing employment packages and retention strategies.

For healthcare IT job seekers, findings like these lay important groundwork for benchmarking current compensation against industry trends. Compensation transparency efforts play a critical role in shedding light on wage gaps that might otherwise go unchecked. It is our hope that research efforts like ours will continue to bring disparities to light and offer employers practical strategies to help close those gaps.

By Rachel Marano, co-founder and Managing Partner at Pivot Point Consulting, a Vaco Company. Marano was recently named as one of the Top 10 Female Leaders of Private U.S.-Based Companies by Owler. 

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