One might be inclined to assume that the medical leadership pipeline will automatically fill with women as a younger generation of predominantly female doctors advance in their careers. However, research on gender representation in Swiss hospitals yields sobering data. In every age group, female physicians are less often represented in the higher hierarchical levels than would be expected based on their share in the respective age group. For example, the share of women holding chief physician positions is generally not even half as large as the percentage of women in the respective age group. (

This gender gap may be partially due to the fact that more female physicians work part-time or even leave the medical profession altogether compared to men. Women cite the incompatibility of the medical profession with childcare as the most frequent reason, followed by the high workload and working hours, while these factors are much less important for male doctors leaving the profession.

Several leading Swiss hospitals have recognized the need for change and are exploring ways to make the medical profession more family-friendly for both men and women. They’ve also acknowledged the need to better prepare young female physicians for a career in medicine, for example by supporting them in making informed career decisions, equipping them with future skills, and helping them to build a professional network early on.

To this end, several hospitals in Switzerland have partnered with the Competence Centre for Diversity & Inclusion (CCDI) and the Executive School to develop a new training programme for female medical residents to strengthen them personally and to prepare them optimally for their future careers. Through a series of online learning sessions and on-site workshops, participants will acquire skills for handling challenging work situations, strengthening their resilience, and enhancing their impact in complex interprofessional environments. They will also receive valuable guidance from coaches and inspiration from female role models on topics related to career and work-life balance.

As the medical profession and healthcare sector evolve, our goal is to support more female physicians in developing their careers and acquiring skills for tomorrow, enabling them to take on an equal share of leadership positions and shape the future of healthcare in Switzerland. In addition, the new programme also contributes to alleviating the serious shortage of skilled professionals in Switzerland.

The pilot program “Aiming Higher – Career Development for Female Medical Residents” will launch for the first time on February 23rd with 35 participants from various hospitals in Switzerland.  For more information, visit our programme website.

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About the author

Melissa Reynolds 14x18px 26102017 1

Melissa Reynolds Senior Programme Manager Diversity & Leadership Programmes


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