This year will mark my first time at Health Datapalooza. It’s an event I’ve kept tabs on over the years via Twitter – one that always intrigued me with the energy I could feel coming through the #hdpalooza twitter stream. From my home office, it has seemed like an event where movers and shakers go to share ideas and opportunities, a conference where health data reigns supreme and business opportunities with even a hint of info-blocking are shut down quicker than you can say “interoperability.” Seeing so many health IT celebs all in one place has kept Health Datapalooza on my professional bucket list.

The tradition of observing from afar will change in a few weeks, thanks to some outside-the-box thinking from the folks at AcademyHealth, who have invited the #healthITchicks community into the Health Datapalooza fold as part of a pre-conference session focused on networking and professional development, with an emphasis on salary and contract negotiation.

As we transition out of Women’s History Month in March and look ahead to Equal Pay Day on April 10, the topic of salary and benefits as seen through the lens of professional women couldn’t be timelier. We’ve all (hopefully) seen and heard the consistently depressing wage-gap statistics. Mainstream media outlets have been relentless in their #MeToo and #TimesUp coverage – making it nearly impossible for decision-makers to keep their heads in the sand when it comes to addressing inequalities within their corporate ladders and cultures.

And it’s not just a movement taking place at the proverbial higher level. The interest I’ve seen and conversations I’ve had around helping women in healthcare technology take control of their careers and realize their full potential have escalated right along with the headlines. The last 18 months have seen, what to me seems like an explosive interest in aiding and abetting women in getting what’s coming to them, whether that’s equal pay, mentorship opportunities, or – dare I say it – retribution for harassment.

Headlines have an uncanny knack for shining a spotlight on problems like the gender wage gap, but can sometimes be lacking in offering nuts-and-bolts solutions. That’s why I’m so eager to hear from the women who’ll be joining in on “Meeting, Leading, and Succeeding – a Pre-Con Event for Women in Health IT” the afternoon of Wednesday, April 25. They’ll share personal experiences of job hunting, interviewing, and what it’s taken to accept job offers on their terms, including advice around salary and benefits negotiation. Afterwards, we’ll engage in some un-conference activity that will give everyone a chance to dive a little deeper into crowdsourced topics affecting women in the workplace. And at the end, we’ll hopefully come away with new friends and next steps on how to gain the upper hand in getting that dream job. Ladies, I look forward to meeting you in Washington, DC in just a few weeks. Gents, you’re invited too -- attend so that you can take back nuggets of wisdom to your HR departments and female colleagues. Everyone will benefit when the disparities are done away with.

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