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Persistent gender related barriers preventing nurses from pursuing leadership positions must be addressed along with greater investment in the profession to allow nurses to work to their full scope, a new report has revealed.

While 70% of the total health and social care workforce is made up of women, just 25% hold health system leadership roles, the Gender Assessment of Nursing Leadership Report states.

Undertaken in collaboration with global campaign Nursing Now, the report found discrimination, bias and stereotyping are hindering opportunities for female nurses to develop skills and perpetuate the gender pay gap and result in unequal treatment within the health workforce between women and men worldwide.

Findings were drawn from a survey of 2,537 nurses and midwives from 117 countries as well as a literature review and key informant interviews.

When nurses were asked about factors keeping them from pursuing higher-level positions, 45% of respondents listed a lack of training in leadership.

Barriers preventing career progression included cultural perceptions about the specific roles of women and men, female nurses having to juggle paid and unpaid work, and nurses not feeling confident in taking on leadership roles.