Women and the Leadership in Healthcare Systems: A Systematic Literature Analysis

  • Dagmar Radin Faculty of Political Sciences, University of Zagreb, Croatia
Keywords: gender, leadership, health systems, health workforce, Europe


Women make up roughly 70% of the healthcare workforce worldwide. However, this is not reflected in leadership positions in health systems, where women are generally underrepresented. This systematic review investigated the existing literature published between 1990 and April 2021 on the advancement of women to healthcare leadership positions in European countries. The results suggest that few existing studies deal with the advancement of women to leadership positions in healthcare in European countries. The studies analysed in this article show that work-life balance, social gender stereotypes, professional elitism and lack
of institutional support for women’s careers, such as mentoring or flexible working hours, are the main factors preventing women from advancing to leadership positions in the healthcare system. Measures such as formal mentoring, flexible working hours and part-time contracts are considered institutional measures
that could help overcome some of the barriers to women’s career development in healthcare. The review points to the existence of social, institutional and internal personal barriers to women’s advancement to healthcare leadership in Europe.