Q4 2018 Newsletter - Event Recap: 2018 Women in Health IT Symposium

On the evening of November 28, forty women working in health IT came together for SoCal HIMSS kickoff Women in Health IT symposium and dinner event, "How did we get here? The journey and views of women in technology."

The event featured a sit-down dinner, networking opportunities and a panel session moderated by Bella Zaghi, President of SoCal HIMSS and chair for the evening’s event. The three female health IT executives on the panel were

Sarah Richardson, CIO at Davita Medical Group and VP of Advocacy for SoCal HIMSS

Despina Hopkins, Area CIO at Cedars Sinai Medical Center, Past President of SoCal HIMSS

Kara Marx, VP of Information Systems at Sharp Healthcare, also named one of the top 20 powerful women in health IT by health data management

The three speakers shared their diverse perspectives and experiences and brought a component that, as one guest stated, was missing for her 30 years in the industry, the human element. Besides speaking to their journey, the direction the industry is going and advice, they revealed their personal struggles, lessons and how they lead by example.

Beginning the Women in Health IT division within SoCal HIMSS was a personal journey that Bella Zaghi, President of SoCal HIMSS and Chair for the Women in Health IT division, quickly realized was shared by many women in the chapter and in the industry. As an Iranian American, Bella’s experienced a lot of firsts in her family including educational opportunities, personal experiences, and expanding gender roles in the United States. Consequently, she had to reach outside her circle to find role models and leaders to look up to, learn from and to garner support.

Realizing how pivotal and valuable networking has been to her personal and professional growth she wanted to create a platform where female health IT leaders can gather together, expand their network, exchange ideas and learn from each other.

Besides networking and supporting one another, an additional purpose of the group is to provide solutions to narrow the gender gap and change the executive landscape. HIMSS recently published the results from a longitudinal gender compensation assessment – leveraging nine years of data from 2006-2015. The survey stratified the findings by job title and revealed that the average female health IT worker has consistently been paid less than male health IT workers. Further, the situation appears to be worsening with a widening pay gap by 2.7 percent from 2006 to 2015.

This clearly indicates that the sector could do a much better job in addressing pay inequalities among other disparities.

One of the advantages of having Women in Health IT as part of the Southern California Chapter of HIMSS, which consists of over 3,000 members, and part of the national and global HIMSS network, is that solutions can be shared with the local and national board and can be implemented into the industry. For instance, if there is something that needs to be addressed to local, state or federal government officials, Advocacy can add the Women in Health IT item to their agenda when they go to Sacramento or Washington, DC. If something needs to be addressed in education, it can be shared with the Academic Alliance Community.

The chapter is excited for the potential in Women in Health IT in changing current trends and engaging and empowering more female health IT workers in SoCal and beyond. Special thanks to the female board members for their help in planning the event: Krystal DiStefano, Sarah Richardson, Geri Pavia and Karen Kennedy.