“Breadwinner Moms” and #HITChicks

Posted on May 30, 2013 I Written By

As Social Marketing Director at Billian, Jennifer Dennard is responsible for the continuing development and implementation of the company's social media strategies for Billian's HealthDATA and Porter Research. She is a regular contributor to a number of healthcare blogs and currently manages social marketing channels for the Health IT Leadership Summit and Technology Association of Georgia’s Health Society. You can find her on Twitter @JennDennard.

You’ve got to wonder at the title of a new Pew Research Center survey, so aptly called “Breadwinner Moms.” It’s catchy, for sure, but at the same time carries with it a hint of guilt that so many of us working moms are all too familiar with.

The survey found that “40% of all households with children under the age of 18 include mothers who are either the sole or primary source of income for the family.” That’s up 29% in the last 53 years, which isn’t all that surprising since, as the survey found, women now make up 47% of the labor force. I hope that we’re all fairly familiar with the historical and cultural forces behind these increased percentages.

Though not surprising to me, as the majority of my female contemporaries work and have children, I do wonder what portion of women in healthcare IT – or #HITchicks, as I like to call them on Twitter – are a part of this growing group. I’d safely bet that at least 50% of the women I work with have children at home. Ladies, do you see similar statistics play out at your organizations?

While this number seems to be increasing, I think it is also causing the “mommy guilt” so many of us feel at one time or another to ease a bit. At least we have other moms to commiserate with once we get to the office. I think parents today are fortunate that many in the corporate world have embraced telecommuting and working from home. (Though with young children at home this summer, I find myself more productive working in the office. My four-year old just can’t wrap her head around the need to not bother me when my home office door is closed.)

I wonder if this survey, and the general topic of women in the workplace, will be brought up at the “Women as Leaders” session at the upcoming HFMA ANI conference in Orlando. This will be my third time attending, and I find that I enjoy it just as much as I do HIMSS.

The session description reads, “Join a lively and inspiring conversation with the women on HFMA’s Board of Directors about how women can thrive as leaders in a highly demanding environment. Although women have long held leadership positions in health care, barriers to these roles continue to exist. Learn how the women on HFMA’s Board of Directors have achieved a seat at the leadership table and made their voices heard.”

They’ll “identify core skills women need for leadership success, such as self-confidence, team management, and negotiation; help women new to leadership roles excel and embrace the challenges they face; and share success stories for managing careers, families and communities.”

It’s the “families” part I’m most interested in hearing about. Though I love my career so much that I don’t see myself ever totally give it up, I’ve realized the term has to be fluid – changing in shape and definition to meet the needs of my family, which at the end of the day trumps career – and being the breadwinner – every time.