Nurses bring unique perspectives to boardrooms in areas related to strategic planning, critical thinking, communication, quality and process improvement, human resources, finance and complex problem-solving. 

However, the nursing profession is gendered, which often undervalues its contribution, leading to a lack of recognition. Often perceived as a caring role, nursing has been typically stereotyped as feminine work, with fewer men choosing it as a career. 

While there are far fewer men in nursing, the ‘glass escalator’ finds male nurses climbing the leadership ladder faster than their female counterparts. Strategies for nurses to attain leadership positions are studied and reported on, without a specific gender lens. 

This systematic review explores the evidence for organisational level strategies that advance female nurses in their careers.  


Four large databases were searched using search terms: leadership, OR career mobility, OR career progression, OR career advancement, AND academia, OR health services, AND female, OR women. 

For this additional analysis, the term nurs* was also included. Six studies met the inclusion criteria and were included in this analysis. 

Data were extracted narratively to identify the barriers, facilitators, and organisational-level interventions that support the advancement of female nurses in leadership based on their career stage and setting, including academia, clinical or global health. 


Organisational interventions such as leadership training, mentorship and networking, and financial support have been found to be effective across nursing career stages (early, mid and senior). Career assistance, orientation programmes, shared experiences, and stories of successful senior nurse academics were reported as supportive organisational level interventions for early-career nurse academics. Executive training programmes were found to be an effective leadership development intervention for senior clinicians.   


Mentorship, networking, financial support, leadership training and leadership opportunities are highly cited organisational level interventions for advancing nurses in healthcare leadership. 


  • Mihirika Surangi De Silva Pincha Baduge, Monash University and Austin Health. 


  • Mariam Mousa, Monash University 
  • Leanne Boyd, Eastern Health 
  • Helena Teede, Monash University and Monash Health