Berlluzzo (2007) asserted that the health care industry is one of the fast growing industries in the world. This growth is attributed to the ever-increasing demand and consumption of health care products. The growth is also attributed to the expanding population. The health care sector continues to expand despite various challenges experienced in the global economy. This is because the demand for health care products has always been on the rise. The increasing demand calls for improvement in the management of health care institutions. Management professionals who work within the health care sector perform different roles. They work as managers, administrators, chief executive officers, and leaders. The leadership of men and women is different. However, the question regarding which gender is better in the leadership of health care institutions has not been answered. Husu, Hearn, Lamsa, and Vanhala (2010) are of the view that management and leadership aspects are complex processes that require the use of different skills. Men exhibit different leadership potentials compared to women. Therefore, men can perform well in certain fields of management. On the other hand, women sometimes have better skills in managing other aspects. This brings into picture the aspect of gender differences in leadership and management. Therefore, differences in the management and leadership of men and women remain controversial. Different theories have been developed to explain this scenario. Empirical research and general scientific analysis have indicated that there are gaps in the management of men and women. Gender abilities in the management of health care organizations can be explained by exploring various theories. These theories help in developing a contextual definition concerning leadership abilities of men and women (Husu, Hearn, Lamsa & Vanhala, 2010).
Leaders and managers in the health care sector should have positive health care experience. The experience is combined with personal traits to improve the performance of health care organizations. Some theories hold that women have better skills in managing health care organizations. This is because they seem to possess the socio-mental characteristics. These characteristics include sympathy, honesty, caring personality, desire to help others, and some others. However, it is evident that the health care sector is made up of organizations that are fully functional. Most organizations in the health care industry are driven by strategic goals. This is similar to the private sector. In both sectors, the main goal is to maximize profits (Husu, Hearn, Lamsa & Vanhala, 2010). Therefore, the socio-mental characteristics that are possessed by women may not be applicable for effective management of the health care sector. On the other hand, men have traits that are suitable for managing healthcare institutions. This implies that men are likely to be more predominant in health care management positions than women. This emanates from assumptions in the society where men are said to discharge managerial duties better than women. The number of successful male managers is more than that of female managers. Notably, females are found in a small number of leadership and managerial positions. This is also replicated in health care management where women are thought to possess limited qualities for proper management (General Electric, 2011).
According to General Electric (2011), the potential and flexibility of women in performing managerial roles is affected by many things. These include the recognition of women and various situations they face, adaptability to technological changes, communicative and organizational capabilities, and the exercise of power and authority in the organization. Other factors are home-job relations, intersectional and masculinity factors at the workplace among other issues. The work environment exposes managers to different conditions. These conditions may have different impacts on different managers depending on their gender. Many researchers argue that there are no significant differences between genders in management. However, differences are quite obvious, women are considered to be more sensitive in nature. The differences are often generated from the work environment itself (General Electric, 2011). Most fields in the economy are considered to have been established under the initiative of men. Therefore, men are said to be perfect in establishing strategies.
The health care sector is dominated by women who work as nurses or primary healthcare providers. The other influential positions such as doctors, clinical officers, and other specialists within the health care sector are dominated by men. The health care sector is elaborate and demanding as it involves handling fragile operations. They include performing primary and secondary health care activities. These activities are highly fragmented, and they require awareness and commitment (Husu, Hearn, Lamsa & Vanhala, 2010).
There has been a debate regarding the gender role differences in the management of health care organizations. Men and women fulfill management and leadership duties differently. This is because men and women have physical, social, and mental characteristics that are different. Traditionally, men have been regarded as the best managers because of their emotional set-up that enables them to handle challenging tasks. Research has indicated that men have high resilience mechanisms. This allows them to coordinate different challenging tasks and provide solutions. This explains why most leadership and managerial positions in different industries are held by men. However, in the recent times, it has been noted that women have come up to challenge men in managing organizations. Women have emerged to manage and hold different leadership positions within different industries where they discharge their roles. In many instances, women have even surpassed their male counterparts by leading departments to achieve considerable success. What needs to be reviewed is whether women can perform better in management within the health care sector. The health care sector is one of the most complicated and delicate sectors that needs a high level of commitment and flexibility from the managers. The notion as to whether men or women can fulfill the attributes of managing in the health care sector is a subject that needs research. There are various studies and investigations that have been done in recent times on gender roles in leadership. They have focused on comparing how men and women perform management roles. The research has been general and has not focused on certain industries. Management in certain fields calls for more than just theoretical skills. This is because it includes other aspects that are differently implemented by different genders. Research should compare real cases of management and come up with a congruent conclusion on the gender that suits best to manage in the health care sector.
The purpose of the research
The primary purpose of this research is to establish the differences in the management potential of male and female managers within the health care sector. The research will be based on cases of managing health care by men and women to ascertain the versatile gender in health care management. The research is meant to establish results that will portray the potential of male managers, as well as that of female managers. After the analysis, a clear line will be drawn to indicate whether women perform better in managerial or leadership positions within the health care sectors than men.
A number of questions will be posed to guide the collection of data for analysis. This will be critical for the exploration of the subject of this research. These questions will guide and direct the entire research. In addition, the answers to the question will be the main source of data for the research process. Five key questions will be critical in generating data for the topic under investigation. The questions that will form and guide this research are as follows:
- What is the ratio of male to female managers in the health care sector?
- Are there potentialities that place women in a better position in managing the health care sector than men?
- Are women good managers/leaders? Are their managerial skills and abilities favorable in managing the health care sector?
- What are the gender gaps and differences in management within the health care sector?
- Are there any real indications that women are more versatile in managing the health care sector than men?
This research seeks to put the aspect of management into the picture by focusing on engendered issues in management of health care. The objectives of this research will include the following:
- To explore the ratio of female to male managers in the health care sector.
- To find out factors that support females as favorites in managing or leading the health care sector.
- To establish whether women are excellent managers and whether their managerial skills and abilities are best suited in the management of the health care sector.
- To identify gender gaps concerning management that exists in the health care sector.
- To develop conclusive outcomes on whether women are versatile and best suited in managing the health care sector.
Review of Literature
History of leadership – focus on gender perspectives
According to Jurma and Powell (1994), leadership and management are considered to be universal phenomena. Issues concerning leadership capabilities of men and women are as old as human civilization. In this respect, these issues have been quoted in ancient civilizations like the Egyptian civilization. According to Hale (2001), the subject of women and leadership has been dragging for a long time. This has attracted a lot of research from different individuals and organizations. The outcomes from studies establish that there are significant assumptions on the existence of differences in leadership among women and men. Historically, women have been seen as having limited potential to ascend to leadership or managerial positions. In case they do, they rarely succeed in management. In the health care sector, women are only linked to lower ranks such as nurses and caregivers. These are ranks that fall far below the leadership and management positions. Meta-analytical studies established that women are countering what is considered to be stereotypic beliefs that they perform poorly compared to males in their tasks (DeMicco & Williams, 2000). Historically, studies point to the masculine features of men as being the reasons to why men are rated higher than women workers. However, recent developments point to the mental complexity of people in attending to tasks. This also points to the fact that men are prepared to handle tasks that are regarded as quite complex. Psychological research found that men were regarded as the best managers when in handling complicated and demanding tasks (Jurma & Powell, 1994). Management is considered to be a growing subject. In the ancient time, management and leadership were mostly focused on pure business institutions. However, as it is today, leadership and management has come to focus on the entire economic segments including health care. Leadership or management in the health care sector is becoming useful. This is because of the complex operations that are involved in health care. Leadership attributes are considered crucial in managing health care departments (Berlluzzo, 2007).
Qualities of leadership and management
In a research that was done to ascertain the essence of leadership and management in health care, three leadership characteristics were singled out as critical for successful management. The ability to handle business complexity was one of the characteristics. It was noted that successful leaders in the health care industry are required to be intelligent and knowledgeable in business management. Such leaders also needed to be versatile with the ability to handle multiple and complex tasks. The other quality of health care leaders is integrity. This means that they should follow a code of ethics and be ready to admit mistakes. This quality is mostly attributed to female leaders. The leader should also have the ability to remain calm even in the midst of an emergent crisis within the health care sector. They must be ready to learn from every single situation in the organization (DeMicco & Williams, 2000). Research shows that the number of women constituting the workforce in the United States has been on the increase. Women account for 50 per cent of the United States workforce. However, the representation of women in leadership and managerial positions remains curtailed. This is irrespective of increased research and effort to ensure that women are empowered to take leadership in all economic sectors. Women have been increasingly advancing their skills in academics. This is especially in business and management related courses. Therefore, the lack of theoretical skills cannot be blamed for the absence of women in leadership positions. This means that there are other forces that determine the ability of people to perform well in complex managerial positions such as those found within the health care sector (Seija, 2002).
Managing healthcare systems
According to Jurma and Powell (1994), health care organizations and systems have been undergoing comprehensive changes in order to meet the ever-increasing demand for health care. New technologies and procedures are being introduced to help in meeting the changing demands within the health care industry. These changes call for effective management and leadership that will see the implementation of these changes. Therefore, present and future managers who will be managing any department in the health care industry need to be versatile so that to match the work requirements. Women are argued to be well prepared in handling these tasks. This is because women have high capacity and experience in handling issues related to nursing (Seija, 2002). It is evident that women have been proficient in handling subordinate tasks within the health care sector. However, the qualities that enable them to handle these tasks have not been used in lifting them to managerial positions within the health care sector.
Berlluzzo, C.M. (2007). Global perspectives of leadership in healthcare: Exploring differences using concept mapping as an analytical approach. New York: UMI Dissertation Publishing.
DeMicco, F.J. & Williams, A.J. (2000). Attributes associated with success as perceived by managers in three levels of multidepartment management in acute care hospitals. Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research, 24(1): 36-48.
General Electric, (2011).Next-generation revenue cycle solution combines best metrics, interoperability, and versatility: The qualities you demand in a revenue cycle management solution. New York: General Electric publishing.
Hale, J.P. (2001). Leadership, ascendancy, and gender. Texas: University of North Texas
Husu, L., Hearn, J., Lamsa, A. & Vanhala, S. (2010). Leadership through the gender lens: Women and men in organizations. Helsinki: Hanken School of Economics.
Jurma, H. & Powell, L. (1994).Perceived gender roles of managers and effective conflict management.Psychological Reports, 74 (1): 104-106.
Seija, T. (2002).Views on management and leadership in nursing. Oxford: Enfermeria Global.