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International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8th every year. It is a focal point in the movement for women’s rights. This internationally recognized day celebrates women’s accomplishments throughout history. In addition to honoring women’s achievements, IWD brings attention to the many injustices committed against women. It also calls for more progress toward gender equality.

It is a day set aside to recognize the social, economic, cultural and political progress of women. International Women’s Day was first celebrated in the United States in 1909, 110 years later we currently have the most women in Congress than in the entire history of our nation. Now that is progress!

Women all over the world are empowered by movements and days set aside to celebrate this momentum for women. According to Nielson, for more than 30 years, they have been earning more bachelor’s degrees than men. They’re asking for promotions and negotiating salaries at the same rates as men. Today, having children does not hinder a woman’s career path as it did in the past. Women now comprise nearly half of the nation’s workers, and 70% of mothers with children under age 18 are in the labor force.

We spoke with Janae Sharp. She is the co-founder of Sharp Index, a nonprofit dedicated to reducing physician suicide and burnout. Sharp is the proud mother of four children. She embodies the image of a well-rounded, working mom. “I knew that I wanted to be able to work and spend as much time with my children as possible. With the internet and preparation, we can work anywhere…”

The flexibility has allowed women to return to the workforce with finesse compared to previous decades. Sharp continued to tell us although the option is there, it is still difficult. “There are sacrifices that I have made in order to spend more time with my children, but I have the choice. The key for me has been open communication about expectations. I expect people to understand that I value them enough to spend time away from my baby or bring him with me. My children will see that women are capable of providing and understand the value of that work.”

According to the World Health Organization, 200 million workers contribute to the health and social sector, one of the biggest and fastest growing employers of women. Of those workers, nearly 80% are in fact women, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data. That says a lot for how women care for people. But despite the fact that women outnumber men in the healthcare workforce by 3 to 1, they represent only 1 in 5 executives and board members at Fortune 500 healthcare companies.

Historically speaking women take on the role of the nurturing nurses, more than the role of the physician.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016, 38.2% of physicians and surgeons were female and 90% of registered nurses were female. In 2018 that figure rose to 94% female nurses. The cultural stereotype on caring and gentle female nurses to the masculine role of a male doctor is hard to break overnight. However, we are off to a great start.

Women nurses are a standard across the industry, while female executives in health systems and healthcare organizations are not. Recently more and more women in powerful roles in healthcare have come to light. Let’s take Chief Executive Officer, Judy Faulkner for example. She founded Epic, America’s leading medical-record software provider, in a Wisconsin basement in 1979. Forty years later she has made it to ranking number three on Forbes America’s most self-made women list, 75 on America’s Power Women list, and many more notable recognitions.

As we look toward the future, women’s credentials are only gaining more momentum. The gap between the genders becomes lessened the more aware we are of what is holding women back.

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