Funding to advance women’s careers and leadership within healthcare post COVID-19

To promote gender equity in healthcare leadership, optimise career goal attainment and improve quality of working life for women in healthcare, Monash University and Monash Partners Academic Health Science Centre has received $2M in funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council, government and healthcare partners.

This funding has come at a critical time with COVID-19 hitting working women and our largely female frontline health professionals hard.

The Australian healthcare sector has a 75 per cent female workforce, yet only 13 per cent of our large hospital CEOs are women. There is a huge untapped leadership potential that must be unlocked to create a diversity and abundance in healthcare leaders. These vital and timely funds will mobilise national collaboration and deliver and implement the best evidence to help address this.

Project lead, Professor Helena Teede, Executive Director of Monash Partners Academic Health Science Centre, a doctor at Monash Health, researcher at Monash University and mother of two said current efforts are adhoc, duplicative and often ineffective.

“Expecting women to fit into systems primarily designed for traditional male gender roles and life patterns, has broad detrimental social, economic and health outcomes. Yet research and progress to change this, have been limited up until now.

“This project moves away from targeting individuals to supporting effective organisational and policy strategies. Addressing gender-based barriers, organisational constraints and culture, conscious and unconscious bias, discrimination and limited role models that perpetuate inequity and are unrelated to individual capability, are key to this work,” said Professor Teede.

Monash Partner Academic Health Science Centre members leading this initiative include Monash Health, Epworth HealthCare, Monash University, Eastern Health and Cabrini Health.

Monash Health’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Anjali Dhulia said gender equality is a key component of Monash Health’s Equity and Inclusion Strategy.

“We are excited to work with our partners to continue to inspire, engage and support women to aspire and excel in leadership within healthcare,” said Dr Dhulia.

Dr Lachlan Henderson, Group Chief Executive Epworth HealthCare, said Epworth is proud to be collaborating with Monash Partners Academic Health Science Centre on the research to improve the leadership path for women.

“Epworth is an employer of choice for many women and we are committed to the ongoing support and promotion of women within our organisation. This important research will help us better understand barriers to women advancing their careers and guide us in ways to address them,” said Dr Henderson.

Other key partners include the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, Royal Australasian College of Physicians, Australian College of Nursing and Royal Australasian College of Medical Administrators.

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians President-Elect and Chair, College Policy and Advocacy Committee, Dr Jacqueline Small, said they were pleased to be participating in this important national initiative to advance women in careers and leadership in healthcare.

“This comprehensive research initiative comes as we begin our own Gender Equity in Medicine program, and we look forward to partnering with Professor Teede and her team,” said Dr Small.

Australian College of Nursing CEO, Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward said: “The disproportionate gap in female leaders in healthcare delivery highlights the inherently gendered bias and how society undervalue women’s contribution. The Australian College of Nursing understands this as 89 per cent of all nurses identify as women. We welcome the opportunity to partner with Professor Helena Teede to bring about necessary change”.

Professor Christina Mitchell, Dean of Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences at Monash University has noted that the funded research and implementation into policy and frontline healthcare, will work to address identified barriers for women within the Australian healthcare sector.

It will reach across:

o Capacity for career advancement and leadership to improve workplace flexibility, limit career disruption through family responsibilities and enhance parenting support.
o Perceived capability or confidence to take on leadership roles by changing processes and culture and providing women with greater access to leadership training and mentoring.
o Credibility by working to reduce unconscious gender bias around leadership, increasing role models and senior representation.
o Cultural diversity to address broader diversity including among women in healthcare leadership.

This research reaches nationally across leading Professional Colleges, health services, Victorian and federal governments and links to expert and advocacy groups internationally. Additional partner organisations are encouraged and welcome.

“We look forward to working in partnership with leading organisations to enhance career goal attainment and leadership for women in healthcare,” said Professor Helena Teede.


Media enquiries:
Amanda Boshier, 0412 224 729,

Available for interview:

Professor Helena Teede
Project lead, Executive Director of Monash Partners Academic Health Science Centre, a doctor at Monash Health, researcher at Monash University and mother of two.