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OHT Manchester at DALS22

Alex Hernandez, Charlotte Lewis and I (Bernadette Clarke) make up the Manchester Hub for One HealthTech. We're all mums and all have demanding day jobs alongside volunteering for One HealthTech.

Back in September, when Alex and I attended HETT, we reflected over drinks that the only reason we were able to be there was because our husbands were doing the childcare. Exacting arrangements have to be put in place to enable a day or an evening's freedom away from domestic and childcare responsibility. The impact of this on the room was not lost; the majority of people in the room being men...

We also reflected that whilst HETT's speakers were diverse, there was only one woman (to my knowledge) that spoke on her own. Were enough women asked? Were there other reasons that more women were not speaking? Confidence? Self belief?

I took this to Sam Shah to ask how panellists are selected. He explained that HETT is always seeking to build diverse and representative panels but, even with this proactivity, it struck me that women still have unequal barriers holding them back from attending events, travelling to a conference or representing their field of work as a speaker.

Through conversation with Sam Shah and Emma Fell, OHT Manchester were invited to run a round table session for the Digital Academy Leadership Summit on female leadership.


What does this picture say to you? This is the first question we asked attendees at the round table session.

The women present certainly felt that it represented their lives and the men shared that they underestimated the burden of household responsibility. We discussed how women may be held back from applying for a role because they didn’t know how they would ‘manage’ the household, childcare and their job. And, while in the majority of households practical duties may be shared, women tend to know what needs to be done and when. Mums carry the greater burden of childcare and childcare arrangements, and (when needed) caring for wider family members. All this in addition to their careers!

Next we considered the image above. To explain what you are looking at, it’s a snippet from a LinkedIn report showing that, as of early November 22, their were 1263 people working in Head of, Director and C level roles in Digital across the UK in the NHS. Admittedly not all people in these roles are on LinkedIn, but it’s a decent data set and one that represents the population working in that field. Of this group 28% are female and 72% are male.

We questioned the obstacles create this disparity and came up with several; women seek certainty they can do a job before applying, whereas men are more likely to take a risk and apply. Women are less likely be at the ‘shoulder tapping’ events that happen at a senior level. If they are not at the event how can they be ‘tapped’ for the role? Women may feel they are not able to ‘juggle’ all that is expected the more senior level with household responsibilities, and thus begins a cycle of needing an opportunity to gain confidence but needing confidence to get the opportunity...

The final item we talked about was imposter syndrome. The definition of which is below:

All the women present stated that at one time or another they had experienced imposter syndrome. Not all the time but, predominantly when starting a new job or being asked to do something out of the ordinary, like giving an external presentation. We discussed the importance of a supportive team and colleagues to offer the right amount of encouragement and understanding.

36 people attended the session, 32 were women and 4 men. The feedback we had from the session was really positive, attendees enjoyed the openness of the conversation and debating important issues that are sometimes dismissed. We will be running follow up sessions and, if you wish to find out more, please get in touch with One HealthTech Manchester!


Alex Hernandez: One HealthTech Fellow & OHT Manchester co-Lead

Alex is a healthcare consultant with 10+ years experience in evidence-based policymaking in healthcare. She works as a Health Tech Policy Advisor in the Digital & IT Category Team at NHS Shared Business Services, where she leads on the Innovation Gateway Project looking to support digital innovations finding complaint routes to market. With a background in economics, her work has focused on the interface between public health, health economics and healthcare and digital policy. Alex is passionate about transformation of models of care, diversity and inclusion in health technology.

Bernadette Clarke: One HealthTech Fellow & OHT Manchester co-Lead Bernadette is the Managing Director of Evolutions Public Sector business with a focus on the NHS, she runs teams of consultants nationally who deliver digital interim talent into NHS organisations. She is an organiser of Her Plus Data Meet Up in Manchester, a female only women in data meet up group which works with the female data community in the North West to empower, mentor and support women with a passion for data and more broadly technology focused work. Bernadette is also a mentor for WIR - Women in Recruitment.

Charlotte Lewis: One HealthTech Fellow & OHT Manchester co-Lead

Charlotte is a commercial health and technology lawyer at national law firm Mills & Reeve. She works with public and private organisations in the health and care sectors covering a wide range of commercial, contractual and organisational issues. Charlotte is currently on maternity leave and enjoying spending time with baby Millie before returning to work in early 2023.


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