Uncover your inner power: Breaking leadership biases in global healthcare

J Dent Educ. 2024 Apr:88 Suppl 1:727-732. doi: 10.1002/jdd.13555.


Women currently represent approximately 70% of the global healthcare workforce, 60.9% of the global dental workforce, 77.6% of the US healthcare workforce, and 36.7% of the US dental workforce. The American Dental Association states that the number of practicing women dentists in the United States has increased by 2.25 times since 2001, with a projected trajectory to level off by 2040. Despite having a major impact on the healthcare sector globally, women earn 24% less than men and only serve in 25% of senior leadership positions. In the US dental schools, only 14% of faculty serve in administrative roles, and as of April 2022, 28.6% of the US dental school deans were women, indicating gender underrepresentation in the highest roles of academic leadership. This corresponds to the data on gender parity still not being the norm in many societies and workplaces and can be attributed to public policies, stereotypical perceptions, and individual factors. Five key factors have been identified to be crucial for women's entry or advancement in global health leadership: a) public policy, b) community, c) institutional, d) interpersonal, and e) individual. Individual self-improvement and institutional practices may be used to overcome these barriers to women's leadership in healthcare and shift the power dynamics toward reinforcing gender equality. These transformative changes are measured through women's collective capacities and skills, relationship dynamics, community perceptions, and environmental practices. This article recognizes the present obstacles to women in healthcare leadership and proposes strategies to achieve gender equality both through individual and institutional practices.

Keywords: biases; gender; global healthcare; leadership; women.

MeSH terms

  • Dentists, Women* / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Global Health*
  • Humans
  • Leadership*
  • Male
  • Sexism
  • United States