What’s the Employment Outlook for Women in Healthcare?

Updated By Staff Writer on April 8, 2021

Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks per year. The healthcare industry never sleeps. During all hours, over weekends and on holidays, millions of female healthcare workers around the world are caring for the sick and injured.

Medical Trailblazers

It wasn’t very long ago that women weren’t allowed at the bedside of patients or in the research laboratory. There were, however, a few women who forged forward in their important work. That’s when everything began to change. Now, almost 50 percent of all medical school graduates, 90 percent of registered nurses, and 73 percent of health services managers are women. Before we look at today’s healthcare opportunities for women, let’s take a moment to honor some women who’ve made incredible contributions to healthcare.

Florence Nightingale, Founder of Modern Nursing Before establishing the first science-based training school for nurses, she was the superintendent of a London hospital in 1853, long before many women were admitted into the profession.


Florence Sabin, Professor of Embryology She was the first woman elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Her work included study of the fetal brain stem and embryonic lymphatic system. She was instrumental in the understanding of tuberculosis.


Eleanor Roosevelt, Head of the U.N. Human Rights Commission in 1948 As one of the primary authors of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, she worked to make certain that access to health care was considered a fundamental right bestowed to all.


Mary-Claire King, Geneticist and Breast Cancer Pioneer She searched for and found the chromosome that laid the groundwork for breast cancer research.


Antonia Novello, First Female U.S. Surgeon General In 1990, she became not only the first female surgeon general but also the first person of Latino descent to hold the position.


Healthcare’s Women of Today

Today, the healthcare industry has surpassed every other field in terms of not only the percentage of employed women but also salary growth. While many industries are lagging at an 8.9 percent projected growth rate from 2012 to 2022, the healthcare industry has a projection of a 26.5 percent growth rate. Registered nurses are expected to make up a large percentage of that increase. RockHealth reports that in 2016, nine out of the top ten Fortune 500 healthcare companies have at least one female C-level executive on their leadership team. Of those ten companies, seven have at least 25 percent of their board made up of women leaders. Among female CEOs, 53 percent have nursing backgrounds.

The Future of Women in Medicine

The future of women in medicine is bright. The upward trends of equal compensation and flexible schedules are very promising, as well as the fact that more women are entering specialties traditionally filled by men, such as gastroenterology, orthopedics, and cardiovascular surgery. A study of more than 500 physician-patient interactions found that “patients of female physicians were significantly more satisfied than patients of male physicians. This held true even after the researchers controlled for patient characteristics such as age, sex, income, education, and health status.” To request information on how to enter the healthcare field, contact Independence University.