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Opinion

Women’s work across every aspect of health care largely invisible

By Ivy Lynn Bourgeault      

Why it’s critical we use gender-transformative approaches for the health workforce in Canada.

Despite their numbers, women’s participation in the health sector is highly stratified. Women are less visible in leadership positions in health care. They lead fewer than 30 per cent of hospitals and other healthcare organizations. This is even lower in the more prestigious research intensive teaching hospitals. Photograph courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
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Sometimes an issue can be so pervasive that it is rendered nearly invisible. Take, for instance, the gender of the health workforce. Women comprise 82 per cent of health workers in Canada, in contrast to 47 per cent in the total labour force. This surpasses the global rate of 70 per cent. From 1997 to 2016, the health sector employment increased approximately 69 per cent, almost twice that of the Canadian labour force. The proportion of women working

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