We Are the 51 Percent: Surveying Women Medtech Leaders


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sit back and wait to be recognized for their leadership skills. This oftentimes results in women being overlooked for opportunities since their more sedate brands get overshadowed by the brightly lit brands of their male counterparts.

Interestingly, when asked in which sectors of healthcare it is hardest and easiest for women to achieve success, the medical technology field was deemed the most difficult while the healthcare services sector was deemed the easiest. Of course the audience was skewed to medtech representatives, who are products of their own experience. But it is worth considering. 34 percent of survey respondents said that healthcare services was the easiest place for women to succeed while only 7 percent said medtech, about the same number (8 percent) that said biotechnology. Other choices were pharmaceuticals (13 percent), healthcare IT (1 percent), physicians (14 percent) public policy (13 percent) and academia/research (11 percent). In other words, while the opportunities seem to be looking up for women in medtech, one survey respondent said, “I think we are still light years behind Pharma in this regard” and another said that women are offered greater opportunity in the patient care-related and “caring” roles found in healthcare services.

Regardless of the field, I like this comment left in the “Anything else you want to add” section of the survey: “This group of women is the next generation of leaders. There is going to be a CEO shift in the next five years and funding methods are changing. Innovating new business models will be a way to leapfrog ahead.”  With a healthcare industry undergoing dramatic change, there is no doubt that new approaches to problem-solving will be the answer to our cost, quality and access challenges. And while those who forget history may be doomed to repeat it—a quote that suggests the importance of experience–there is another quote from Eric Hoffer that hints at the very real opportunity rising medtech women have to seize at least 51 percent of the power in a world of evolving business models. “In times of change, learners inherit the Earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”

Note: The 100 women in medtech survey respondents break out as follows: 3 percent medtech CEOS and 47 percent medtech company senior management; 1 percent other healthcare CEOs and 3 percent other healthcare company senior management; 8 percent venture or private equity investors; 8 percent bankers, analysts, lawyers or recruiters; 3 percent academia or healthcare policy-makers; and 27 percent other healthcare system participants.

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Lisa Suennen is a managing director with GE Ventures and former managing member of the Psilos Group, as well as the co-author of Tech Tonics: Can Passionate Entrepreneurs Heal Healthcare With Technology? and author of the blog Venture Valkyrie. Follow @venturevalkyrie

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