'Great resignation' of women increases pressure on global healthcare sector

Report emphasises gender disparities in pay and senior leadership positions across the industry

Female health workers were at a higher risk of infection during the Covid-19 pandemic. Getty Images
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High numbers of women around the world have resigned from the healthcare industry due to gender inequalities made worse by the Covid-19 pandemic, a report has found.

The study, conducted by Women in Global Health, said the health sector was facing a "crisis of global proportions".

Women, who account for 70 per cent of health workers, faced additional challenges during the pandemic, including an increased risk of infection due to inadequate personal protective equipment (PPE), which is predominantly designed for men.

School closures and issues with childcare also increased the pressure on women working in the sector.

Ann Keeling, author of the report, which is to be released on Tuesday, called for women to be given “realistic workloads, fair pay, protection from violence and sexual harassment, and PPE that protects them from infection".

The so-called great resignation of female healthcare workers means “we’re looking at a crisis of global proportions in the health workforce", said Ms Keeling, senior fellow of Women in Global Health.

The report also said the trend of high-income countries recruiting healthcare workers from lower and middle-income nations contributed to the crisis by affecting doctor-to-patient ratios in poorer countries.

The report also emphasised the gender disparity in leadership roles in the sector, with women holding 25 per cent of senior positions.

Dr Roopa Dhatt, executive director of Women in Global Health, said there were “no magic bullet solutions to the great resignation and great migration of women in the health profession".

Dr Dhatt advocated a collective re-evaluation of health systems around the world to emphasise gender equity and fair pay.

Updated: October 20, 2023, 5:59 PM