Today I refuse to be a “Woman in Healthcare”, because until we talk about “Men in Healthcare,” why should I pin this title on my blazer and walk around, asking to be treated differently?
Don’t get me wrong, during my twelve years of attending medical conferences, connecting with physicians, and training teams, I have witnessed a fair amount of gender injustices. Often people did treat me differently compared to my male colleagues.
Women – in general – have less credibility. In fact, according to Timothy O’Brian in “Judging Expertise: Gender and the Negotiation of Expert Authority in Courts” (2016), women “must clear a higher bar than men to demonstrate their credibility as expert witnesses” in court.
Besides, we continue to lag in terms of salary pay; “Gender Differences in Negotiation: Implications for Salary Negotiations” (2016) by Julia Johnson is one of multiple documented proofs on gender inequality in the workplace, and the list goes on. But I am not here to talk about what you already know is there. Till this day and in most societies, gender bias is like a hateful mother-in-law: better get used to her because she’s here to stay (Mine is the sweetest, just saying!).
Here are four strategies you can adopt today:
- Be Good at What You Do.
Be better at it than anybody there. This sounds like a lot of pressure, and it is. But here’s the thing, it’s not a race, and there’s no end line. It’s an infinite road where every time you stumble on a market survey, or a stressful meeting, where every time someone gives you negative feedback, you become just a little better.
Make a list of the skills and learnings that you believe you lack to get that next job or to start your next personal online shop. It could be investment basics for non-finance managers, graphic design for beginners, or advanced negotiation skills. This list is not exhaustive, it is infinite, and every time you become better at one craft, be honest with yourself, and add one more.
- Be Curious.
The opposite of love is not hatred; it’s indifference. The same goes for being knowledgeable in your business. The worst thing you can do to your business acumen is to be content with what you know.
“What exactly should I learn?” You’d ask. Indeed, do ask yourself and people you trust, questions like: How can I get better here? What is lacking there? Do not fear to expose your weaknesses to people to whom you look up to. After all, that’s how mentors are born.
What we often lack is not technical, like how to read a Profit & Loss spreadsheet, or how to design a website. It is often the “soft skills” that we need to improve, and those include communication skills, flexibility, leadership, etc. Now, I don’t know who had the idea to call them soft skills: they are not “soft” at all; they are hard to spot, hard to learn, hard to unlearn, and harder to apply and to improve, but that’s another story.
- Be the Woman You Are.
Forget about leading like Jessica Pearson from Suits. She does have a great wardrobe, but most of the time, we don’t know what else she does, other than calling people to her office and asking them to solve the firm’s problems. Be you, be kind and compassionate, and allow your colleagues and your team to think freely around you, invite them to bring their ideas to the table. Only this way everybody wins, including you.
A leader who listens understands people better, their wants, what motivates them, and that is key to being “aligned,” that overused yet crucial word you hear five times a day.
- Choose to Take Advice… Or Not To!
Feedback is gold. Always say yes to hear it, then think it over to see if it is right for you, and decide to act on it, or to ignore it. Among all the wise and knowing people in this room, your 6th sense knows better. This includes making decisions like leaving a safe job for another one in a different industry or filling a sales position with a university dropout. If your gut gives you the green light, then it’s the thing to do, even if your most trustful mentor disagrees.
Being a woman in healthcare should not be any different than being a woman who happens to have chosen the healthcare industry. Whether you are the next Angela Hwang, Group President of the Pfizer Biopharmaceuticals Group or Michael Mahoney, Chief Executive Officer of Boston Scientific Corporation, the key to success is keeping your head bowed to learning, but also lifting it when it’s time to change gears, listen, and lead.
By, Lamis Khoury, Chief Business Development Officer @ Mimetis Biometrials.
*Lamis Khoury is a healthcare professional with over 10 years of experience in commercial launch and business development of biotech companies. She is currently the Chief Business Development Officer of Mimetis Biomaterials in Barcelona, Spain and the co-founder of Mazahr S.L., a strategic consulting company for biotech startups.
To know more about the author, visit this link.