Gender differences among health care leaders examined in new research study at Kennesaw State

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The Women’s Leadership Center in the Coles College of Business releases first joint research…

Georgia (Feb 28, 2014)The Women’s Leadership Center in the Coles College of Business releases first joint research findings

KENNESAW, Ga.  (Feb. 28, 2014) — New research on gender differences among healthcare leaders shows significant variations in salaries, promotions and career backgrounds, according to a study released by Kennesaw State University’s Women's Leadership Center in the Michael J. Coles College of Business. The research was a joint venture with Diversified Search, an executive search firm.

In the study “Healthcare Leadership and Gender,” researchers at the Women’s Leadership Center identified specific factors and trends that differ by gender and affect the process of recruiting, developing and retaining healthcare talent. The researchers found striking differences between men and women in health care leadership positions, such as:

  • A significantly greater number of women than men were promoted from within their organizations, while men were more likely to be hired from outside.
  • Women’s salaries were lower, by an average of 35 percent, than men’s salaries in similar positions.
  • Women derive significantly more satisfaction than men do from a sense of meaningful work/contributing to society.
  • Women have different work histories than men with nearly half reporting backgrounds in nursing.
  • More women than men cited these factors as valuable to their careers: access to flexible work practices, support from family members, networking within their organizations, leadership abilities, involvement in professional/community groups, and having sponsors to endorse them.

“We are very excited to have completed our first joint research collaboration between our own researchers at KSU, and an organizational member of our Women’s Leadership Center’s Professional Women’s Alliance Diversified Search,” saidSamantha Paustian Underdahl, interim research director for the center. “Even though a lot of people tend to believe the glass ceiling is disappearing, our results suggest that it is holding strong in the health care field. Women were significantly more likely than men in our sample to report setbacks in their careers, such as lack of supportive supervisors, exclusion from informal networks, lack of senior role models ‘like them’, and inhospitable culture/biased attitudes. Such factors could explain why women in our sample earned less than men on average.”

The Coles College of Business Women’s Leadership Center at Kennesaw State University is dedicated to helping women reach their leadership potential through innovative research, actionable programs that educate a wide audience of men and women, and a focal point for women’s networking opportunities.

Diversified Search, founded in 1974 is one of the nation’s top 10 executive search firms. Headquartered in Philadelphia, Diversified Search has offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., and worldwide in Europe, Asia-Pacific and the Americas.




A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit