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Listen: Inroads for Women in California’s Health Care Workforce

KFF Health News senior correspondent Angela Hart moderated a panel about women in the health care workforce for an event hosted by Capitol Weekly on Sept. 28 in Sacramento.

California faces a shortfall of health care workers, especially among women. Women account for 39% of doctors in the state, according to KFF, but are beginning to make critical gains. In 2022, the percentage of medical school graduates who were women had grown to 51% in the state while the percentage of male graduates had fallen, according to Kathryn Phillips, the California Health Care Foundation’s associate director for improving access. (KFF Health News publishes California Healthline, which is an editorially independent service of the California Health Care Foundation.)

But even as women make gains, they disproportionately hold jobs that pay less than top earners such as physicians — including nurses and community health workers — and women have fewer opportunities for career growth and leadership.

Hart delved into these issues with leading experts from the University of California-Davis’ Women in Medicine and Health Sciences program; the powerful Service Employees International Union California; the University of California-San Francisco; and the California Medical Association, which represents doctors.

According to the panelists, women bring an important perspective to health care, yet they are less represented in primary and specialty care. And as California’s population ages, young people start their families, and patients increasingly demand culturally competent care, the effort to bring more women into those fields is exploding.

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