The CEO of a leading NHS innovation hub has said she strongly believes the medical technology sector could benefit from greater participation from women, and believes new measures should introduced to pave the way for this.

Dr Anne Blackwood, CEO of Health Enterprise East (HEE) spoke to Digital Health News about the issue of gender inequality within the health technology sector.

“There is no doubt that there is an imbalance, but we need to understand the factors,” Dr Blackwood said.

“We are not doing enough, for example, to encourage women to study STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects.”

Dr Blackwood said that because most digital health companies are run by men, there is not enough support for women, who tend to work differently.

She added that more needed to be done to support women in balancing their work and home lives, and said management needed to step up and help.

“CEOs have to take leadership in diversity issues,” Dr Blackwood said.

“A lot of women still feel that glass ceiling is there and we need to work hard to break that down.

“Things like more flexible working can help.”

Dr Blackwood suggested that women could bring new perspectives and different ways of working to the health technology sector, but needed to be encouraged to speak out in their roles more often.

“Women need to be encouraged to come forward than men, who are seen as risk takers,” she said.

“Women on the other hand are seen to be more modest.”

HEE specialises in taking ideas developed by clinicians within the NHS and helping these come to market by offering advice and guidance on how to commercialise them.

The company has helped a number of female innovators, including Tamsin Brown, who aims to make a device that helps children with glue ear.

Digital Health News recently spoke to Dr Claire Novorol, chief medical officer at Ada Health, about the issues of gender imbalance within the health technology sector.