By Kathryn Ayers Wickenhauser, DirectTrust Director of Marketing and Membership 

Today (March 8th) is International Women’s Day, a global day celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also is seen as a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.

International Women’s Day (IWD) has occurred for well over a century, with the first IWD gathering in 1911 supported by over a million people. Ultimately, IWD is all about unity, celebration, reflection, advocacy and action – whatever that looks like globally at a local level.

This year’s IWD theme is Each for Equal, highlighting how collective individualism is a cornerstone in our society and can do so much for equality.

From IWD, “We are all parts of a whole. Our individual actions, conversations, behaviors and mindsets can have an impact on our larger society.

Collectively, we can make change happen. Collectively, we can each help to create a gender equal world.

We can all choose to be #EachforEqual.”

Aligned with the theme of Each for Equal, DirectTrust is highlighting the contributions, achievements, and thoughts of individual women within our community. We know an equal world is an enabled world.

This International Women’s Day, we celebrate the women working tirelessly in healthcare and information technology, and we encourage our community to forge inclusive workplaces so women can thrive.  By each doing our part, the future for women and girls will be bright, equal, safe and rewarding.

Leslie Kelly Hall (Founder, Engaging Patient Strategies, and Consulting Vice President, LifeWIRE) on acknowledging the fight of others before her:

“I would like to recognize the brave women that helped us get in technology and leadership. Like, my mom, Helen Kelly a programmer in the 60’s whose skills kept a major bankcard company from failing a global upgrade and potential ruin. Although the men told her, a woman couldn’t possibly be right, she snuck the tape into the workflow. When it succeeded and the men came to gloat, she pointed out her tape in the machine, and the man’s on her desk. She quit on the spot.

To my step-mom, Joan Hull a member of the NOW Hall of Fame who pioneered efforts, including successful discrimination lawsuits to get women in the board room.”

Lucy Johns (Consumer Advocate), on honoring and thanking others:

“Women are everywhere! What is the point of International Women’s Day?

It’s a reason to remember and honor and thank the women who made a difference in your life.

I remember my grandmother, who didn’t have an independent day in her 92-year life, who told me when I was very young that a woman must have a profession so she isn’t dependent on men for her life.

I honor my mother, who sacrificed unstintingly so I and my sister could attend colleges of our choice and graduate schools to become the professionals we are.

I thank the women of DirectTrust: Ginna and Kelly who run the place; Leslie and Linda and Julie and Lisa and Holly who’ve taught me so much and supported my commitment to good governance and stellar DirectTrust Policies. And Kathryn, who transformed DirectTrust’s look and presence in the health information technology space!

Stop right now and say the women you remember, honor and thank.”

Julie Maas (Founder and CEO, EMR Direct), on recognizing those who set an example:

“This International Women’s Day, I am particularly thankful for the influence my father had in shaping my attitude toward women and careers. He always made me feel like no profession was unattainable for me–instead he taught me to aim high–and he happily took on his share of parenting in support of my mom’s dual careers.

One of my dad’s colleagues shared recently the uniqueness of opportunities she had, in a traditionally male-dominated profession in the 70’s and 80’s, due to my father’s willingness to advance her career appropriately based on her capabilities, and without the gender bias that was the norm at that time.

It’s my hope that more fathers realize the importance of an attitude like his, both in their professional lives where this is relevant to all men, and in their critical role as parents.”

Dr. Holly Miller (Chief Medical Officer, MedAllies), on celebrating the progress made and opportunity ahead:

“I have been a physician for over 30 years, and a physician with an interest and responsibilities in health information technology (HIT) while maintaining a practice for over 20 years. In my own career, I have witnessed the growth of women in healthcare and HIT from being the only, or one of a few women, in a meeting, at a conference, on a committee, or panel presentation to the growth of women in these arenas.

Diversity, be it gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, religion, age, etc. leads to greater inspiration and better solutions.

In 2019, for the first time ever, there were more women medical students in the US making up 50.5% of enrolled students.  Women currently head CMS, NCQA,
The Sequoia Project and one of the largest and widely implemented EHR systems.  I hope that we can continue to make strides in diversity equality, for example, through eliminating gender-based salary discrepancies and hostile work environments.

I was sad that my mother died before a woman was elected president of the United States.  I am confident that I will experience this several times during my lifetime and that we find that a woman will lead collaboratively.”

Jennifer Smith (Sr. Marketing Strategist for CommonWell Health Alliance, Cerner) on commending the work women do to empower others:

“Following a historic week in our industry, it seems only fitting to recognize the amazing women who lead the interoperability initiatives for HIMSS, particularly Joyce Sensmeier, Mari Greenburg, Bronwen Huron and Katie Crenshaw. Their passion and commitment to driving forward health date exchange is contagious and empowering to women like me, who play a small role in breaking down traditional barriers.”