Angela Hart, the senior correspondent for KFF Health News, led a discussion about the role of women in the health care industry. The event took place on September 28 in Sacramento and was organized by Capitol Weekly.
In California, there is a noticeable lack of health care professionals, and this gap is particularly evident among women. According to data from KFF, women make up 39% of physicians in the state. However, there has been a positive shift. Kathryn Phillips, the associate director for improving access at the California Health Care Foundation, stated that as of 2022, 51% of medical school graduates in California were women, while the percentage of male graduates had decreased. (It’s worth noting that KFF Health News is responsible for publishing California Healthline, an editorially autonomous service of the California Health Care Foundation.)
Despite these advancements, women are still more likely to occupy lower-paying positions like nurses and community health workers, rather than higher-paying roles such as physicians. Additionally, women find fewer avenues for career advancement and leadership roles.
The panel included esteemed experts from various organizations like the Women in Medicine and Health Sciences program at the University of California-Davis; the influential Service Employees International Union California; the University of California-San Francisco; and the California Medical Association, which advocates for physicians.
The panelists agreed that women offer a valuable viewpoint in the health care sector but are underrepresented in both primary and specialty care roles. As the population of California ages, and as younger generations begin to start families, there is a growing demand for culturally sensitive health care. This has led to a burgeoning effort to integrate more women into these specialized fields.