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RheumThoughts: Why I Hire Women

Apr 13, 2023 7:01 pm

Organizational psychologist Adam Grant points to a metanalysis of 63 studies, showing that women who assert their ideas, make direct requests, and advocate for themselves are liked less, AND they are also less likely to get hired.

For me, these are exactly the attributes I am hiring - ideas, assertiveness, speaking up, advocating. If men are stereotypically “strong and silent” types, are women conversely more likely to be more verbose/engaging and malleable? 

For at least 30 years, I’ve been “in charge” and make most hiring decisions. In fact, I have hired way more women than men, for medical practice, clinical trials research, medical education, and digital publishing. 

I strongly believe that by hiring more women, my enterprises have benefited greatly. 

Why have I hired more women? After weeks of retrospection, I have surmised that I hire more women than men because of my mentors (mostly men unafraid to hire women), a desire to mentor young people to greatness and an intentional gender inequity strategy driven to institutional (culture) change. 

Institutional change requires awareness of a problem worth changing, a forward-thinking strategy, and a commitment to a new culture (accepting that cultural change is often slow). As a leader of institutions/organizations, I can make conscious choices to lead through change.

After 12 years in academic rheumatology, I left to pursue several paths and goals. A primary one was creating a culture I wanted to work in and would proudly lead. While we all want to hire the right (best) person for the job, hiring also requires you to assess the intangibles – especially those that can create the best work milieu.

I’ve done thousands of interviews for medical school admissions and job hires. While there is no gender difference in those driven by the need for money, star status or independence, there are few gender differences in candidates. During the interview process, men (in general) want to be viewed as the “best” candidate. By contrast ,women (in general) are more discerning about how they fit in the job and workplace (their perspective more than mine). How important is creating the culture you want to work with and how would gender factor into the choices you make?

With patients my mantra is to always provide – Hope, Goals and Rules. In business I am always seeking to make smarter choices, advance the culture and focus on the immediate challenges.

I’ve previously written about the nurses I work with as being the “glue” for me, coworkers, the clinic; and that without them, my days and tasks would be a never-ending mess. While hiring women for clerical or nursing roles is certainly no surprise, it has become the benchmark for all other hires and personnel I work with and depend on.

For many positions (e.g., lab assistants, study coordinators, researchers, educators, etc.), my primary requirements are accuracy, dependability, productivity and playing well in the sandbox. 

Research on institutional dynamics show that women are statistically more loyal to their employers/companies than men. This equates to greater dedication, longer employment, augmented productivity, and greater morale.

In a male dominated work environment, hiring women promotes diversity. Multiple studies show that diverse work teams solve problems more quickly, make decisions more efficiently, promoting greater workflow, performance, and competitiveness. Research shows gender diversity is associated with more satisfied customers, greater sales revenue, and higher profits. This applies to workers in the trenches and, those at executive and Board positions. 

I thoroughly encourage my coworkers to engage, be creative, be empathetic and find the best solutions possible. This applies to difficult patients, office problem solving, tackling difficult tasks or research. By fostering these attributes, I wish to create more leaders than followers. 

The foundational statistics pointing to gender inequity in salary, hiring, opportunity and leadership are expansive, long standing and have led to a hard ceiling to breakthrough. There is no reasonable reason that, because of their sex, women are disadvantaged or held back from career advancement.

Feedback from women in the workplace or on boards/committees, often lists such snubs:

  • Not having their ideas/views taken seriously
  • Being relegated to worker roles and not leadership roles
  • Having to work harder to overcome barriers
  • Not enough mentoring 

Again, these are the attributes I would love to work with. With these declarations, they’ve already paved the path to career success and only need the opportunity to progress.

A recent dinner celebration in my honor was attended by friends and coworkers (past and current). What stood out for me were 2 separate women (one a researcher, another a rheumatologist) who thanked me for “considering” and hiring them (noting that other male employers didn’t or wouldn’t consider them). This meant more to them than I had realized. They were truly excellent people and professionals. Yet, their career options were constrained by their being young women (with a potential future of child rearing).

The 800 lb. gorilla in the Rheum is the perception that hiring women of child-bearing age means they won’t produce the same full-time employment (FTE) hours as a male candidate. This translates to “what the heck are we going to do when SHE becomes pregnant and is out of the office for 6-12 weeks”? For me this is a windfall and no-brainer:

  • Many employers will pass on excellent candidates because they are women (Their idiocy become my gigantic windfall)
  • Studies show women comparatively more productive (off-setting potential downsides with time off from work) and create better collaborative work environments. 
  • Despite best laid coverage plans – all employees are subject to the need for urgent or planned “time off.”  These “gaps” usually results in hair-on-fire crazed adjustments in operations. Nonetheless, everyone survives and often, such disruptions lead to workflow or operational improvements. (The majority of women I’ve hired have had one or two pregnancies and I cannot remember any real hardship, but I sure can remember the wonder and value that individual brought to work every day)
  • Most of my patients are women, who are more apt to trust and be satisfied by female healthcare providers. 

April 2023 is “Women in Rheumatology” month on RheumNow. I turned over the leadership role of content generation this month to my gender better colleagues (Drs. Dao and Tate) to avoid my “mansplaining” tendencies and to let the right gender lead this month's gender issues and discussions. 

In business, men frequently dominate positions of power and are usually given credit for changing or creating history. If so, was Harriet Beecher Stowe wrong is saying, “Women are the real architects of society”?

Hiring decisions can be difficult and should be based on the qualifications, skills, and candidate attributes, regardless of their gender. Yet, history shows that I have chosen more women for their greater yield in consistency, dedication, and team building.

Your comments on hiring men vs. women would be appreciated.


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The author has no conflicts of interest to disclose related to this subject
Dr. Cush is the Executive Editor of and also Co-Edits the online textbook 
Dr. Cush's interests include medical education, novel drug development, rheumatoid arthritis, spondyloarthritis, drug safety, and Still's disease/autoinflammatory syndromes. He has published over 140 articles and 2 books in rheumatology.
He can be followed on twitter: @RheumNow