Seattle Culture

Trailblazing Women: Dr. Nwando Anyaoku

Chief Health Equity And Clinical Innovation Officer Providence Swedish Health Services

By Dr. Nwando Anyaoku June 3, 2024

Portrait of a smiling black woman with short hair, wearing a colorful jacket and hoop earrings against a gray background.

This article originally appeared in the May/June 2024 issue of Seattle magazine.

Throughout history, women have wrestled with societal norms and gender biases to realize equality and make meaningful strides in the workforce. However, despite significant progress, substantial barriers and inequalities persist.

As a female immigrant of color, I can attest to personal and professional triumphs by way of systemic barriers. While seemingly impossible at the time, each helped mold me into the woman I am today — a mother, caregiver, physician, and medical executive. But above all, I am a relentless problem solver.

From overcoming hurdles imposed on foreign medical school graduates, to being underpaid because a male physician colleague deserved higher wages for the same work because “he has a family,” to being ignored and not recognized for my professional accomplishments, this is my story and the story of countless women in medicine. The Seattle area has been my home for years, and in this time, I have seen both struggle and success for women entrepreneurs and professionals.

However, as the city has grown over the last decade, so have opportunities for female-led businesses and initiatives. Seattle has been heralded as the top city for women entrepreneurs, listed among the best cities for women in legislation, and often ranks in the top 10 for share of women-owned businesses.

Seattle is known for its progressive values and vibrant economy. Among its immigrant population, Black immigrants face unique challenges in our pursuit of success and integration into local communities.

The Seattle area has been my home for years, and I have seen both struggle and success for women professionals.

These hurdles include racial discrimination, cultural adjustment, economic disparities, and education and language barriers. Despite these challenges, Seattle stands out for its high percentage of women-owned businesses, thanks to public support from local economic development initiatives.

Numerous gender-equality and strong women’s networks exist across the region, including the Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Program; access to capital from various small and large business incubators such as Ventures, which offers programs, services, and support to entrepreneurs looking to start or grow a business; and New Tech Northwest, an organization that works to grow both technology companies and technology careers.

By addressing the obstacles faced by Black immigrants and continuing to foster an inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem, Seattle can further enhance its reputation as a city that embraces diversity and empowers all its residents to succeed.

Follow Us

AI is here to stay. Its design shouldn’t leave kids behind.

AI is here to stay. Its design shouldn’t leave kids behind.

Seattle Children’s Research Institute weighs the implications of AI in pediatric care

Seattle is at the forefront of the AI revolution, and while we don’t work in the technology industry, we see the promise for our field of pediatrics. AI is already shaping a new era in medical breakthroughs and...

Is Honesty the Best Policy in Relationships? Uh, Sometimes

Is Honesty the Best Policy in Relationships? Uh, Sometimes

All 'rules' have exceptions

I know that there is generally an ironclad sentiment that honesty is always best. But I would like to propose a reexamination of that “always” word. Because I think, no matter how much we all want to know the truth about everything, that the absolute truth is sometimes too brutal, and sometimes too destructive, to

Publisher's Note: From Stigma to Science

Publisher’s Note: From Stigma to Science

Seattle is emerging as a leader in using psychedelics for mental health

Right or wrong, psychedelics have long been relegated to the fringes of society, dismissed as dangerous substances with no legitimate medical value. Having grown up during the late ‘60s and ‘70s, my word associations for “magic mushrooms” were always with “Woodstock hippies” or worse, “Charles Manson.” But recent research taking place in our region has

Top Docs: 2024

Top Docs: 2024

Seattle magazine's 24th annual list of the best doctors in the Puget Sound region

Finding a doctor can be overwhelming. Referrals from friends and family are helpful, of course, but, in partnership with Castle Connolly, we want to make the process easier. For more than two decades, Seattle magazine has published a list of the region’s top doctors. None paid to be included and all were nominated by their…