Healthcare is a major Australian employer and has a 75% female workforce.[1] Yet, here and internationally, women are underrepresented in healthcare leadership, failing to reflect our community or workforce.[1–3]

Major barriers to change persist.[2–4] Healthcare lacks sector-wide, evidence-based, organisational approaches to drive effective change, leaving the burden to individuals to battle change alone.[4]
Current efforts are ad hoc, duplicative and of limited effectiveness and reach. Partnership, research and translation are urgently needed to deliver multi-faceted organisational change for measurable improvement in equity.[4]

We aim to create a national partnership across broad stakeholders and cross-sector academic expertise to co-design and deliver effective organisational change to Advance Women in Healthcare Leadership (AWHL). 


Stakeholder partnership; a shared vision; resourcing; evidence synthesis (systematic review, meta-synthesis and meta-ethnography); workshops, priority-setting; qualitative research; co-design and implementation research with intervention; and evaluation, capturing and sharing learnings for broad scale-up and impact. 


Partnership across Professional Medical and Nursing Colleges, leading health services, Government and academia (led by Monash University) has been established. A shared vision to advance women in healthcare leadership has been developed. 

Resourcing was obtained via partner contributions and a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Partnership Grant.  

Evidence synthesis identified evidence-based interventions and implementation strategies.5 Co-design processes generated four research themes: 

  • Organisational change management 
  • Leadership development programs 
  • Nursing leadership 
  • Role of member organisations 

Implementation research is currently underway with partners to tailor and support these key organisations to co-design and operationalise their programs of evidence-based work. 


Recognition of the importance of gender inequity in healthcare leadership in Australia is high. Engagement and partnership have been established nationally. Evidence-based approaches and priority areas for collective action have been identified. Project partners are developing gender equity and diversity plans, and work is underway to inform and support each partner in their work and to enable collective action to implement evidence-based organisational change to advance women in healthcare leadership. 

Partners and those interested to engage are welcome. Visit the AWHL website or email us at 


  1. McDonagh KJ, Bobrowski P, Hoss MAK, Paris NM and Schulte M (2014) ‘The leadership gap: ensuring effective healthcare leadership requires inclusion of women at the top’, Open Journal of Leadership, 3(2):20–29. 
  2. Bismark M, Morris J, Thomas L, Loh E, Phelps G and Dickinson H (2015) ‘Reasons and remedies for under-representation of women in medical leadership roles: a qualitative study from Australia’, BMJ Open, 5:e009384. 
  3. Weiss A, Lee KC, Tapia V, Chang D, Freischlag J, Blair SL and Ranamoorthy S (2014) ‘Equity in surgical leadership for women: more work to do’, American Journal of Surgery, 208(3):494–498. 
  4. Teede HJ (2019) ‘Advancing women in medical leadership’, The Medical Journal of Australia, 211(9):392. 
  5. Mousa M, Boyle J, Skouteris H, Mullins AK, Currie G, Riach K and Teede HJ (2021) ‘Advancing women in healthcare leadership: a systematic review and meta-synthesis of multi-sector evidence on organisational interventions’, eClinicalMedicine, 39:101084. 


  • Helena Teede, Monash University and Monash Health 
  • Belinda Garth, Monash University 


From Monash University: 

  • Jenny Proimos 
  • Mariam Mousa 
  • Madison Hartill-Law 
  • Jacqueline Boyle