We Are IH: Breaking the bias against female leaders in health care

March 4, 2022

Medical Health Officer Dr. Carol Fenton

We know that representation matters in health care. Women hold a number of key leadership roles at IH including CEO, members of the IH board of directors, and chiefs of staff. In addition, 1,091 of the physicians with privileges at IH health-care facilities are women.

But, even with women taking an increasing role in leadership, gender bias can still be an issue.

“Before I understood how gender bias can affect referrals to medical specialists, I was definitely guilty of unconsciously perpetuating this practice,” says Dr. Shauna Tsuchiya, a physician at Royal Inland Hospital.

Dr. Tsuchiya learned that identifying as female does not automatically equate to practising female gender equality in the workplace.  

“I now challenge myself and others to recognize and learn about gender biases that exist in clinical medicine and medical leadership,” she says. 

Dr. Shauna Tsuchiya, a physician at Royal Inland Hospital

Dr. Shauna Tsuchiya, a physician at Royal Inland Hospital

Medical Health Officer Dr. Carol Fenton appreciates being a member of a diverse team that recognizes gender equity as an important determinant of health. Dr. Fenton advocates for family-friendly policies—such as protected bicycling infrastructure, on-site childcare, as well as equal sharing of parental leave and domestic duties in every family.

“These types of family-friendly policies and individual choices reduce the burdens and barriers for women to succeed,” she says.

In his leadership role with physician engagement, Dr. Harsh Hundal sees a diverse workforce as fundamental to creating a strong and successful team. As the medical profession becomes more diverse, he sees a shift away from approaching solutions with a ‘we know what’s best’ mentality, towards employing a listen, learn, and co-design mindset.

“I am grateful to the articulate, thoughtful and authentic female leaders who have moved into leadership positions, thereby bringing inclusive voices to the conversation,” says Dr. Hundal. “The key is creating a community of leaders that supports each other, and accepts and learns from each other that there are different and equally valid ways of leading.” 


Interior Health is proud to participate in International Women’s Day on March 8 and help #BreakTheBias. Celebrate women's achievement. Raise awareness against bias. Take action for equality.

Learn more on the IWD website

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