Gender and Health

In this session, we will consider how the relationship between gender and health by examining the historical and present-day influences of sexism and cissexism on disparities in health status and care. Gender, like race, is considered a “master status” in US society: one of the first things we notice about someone is their gender and gender is central to our perceptions of self and our attribution of characteristics and qualities to others. Medicine is not immune to these social influences and in many ways, has perpetuated inequities based on gender. To gain an understanding of the relationship between gender and health, please complete the following before class. It is recommended that you read/watch and take notes as you complete the following three activities.

(1) WATCH: Toxic Masculinity In Boys Is Fueling An Epidemic Of Loneliness (6 min 44 sec)

  • Content Warning: homophobic language is used in this video as a descriptive
  • Goal: Introduce students to the concept of “Toxic Masculinity” and how it affects men’s health

As you watch the video, CONSIDER…

  1. How might this impact diagnosis and treatment of depression or other mental illness in adults and older adolescents in the primary care setting?
  2. Think about what you have learned in other EHM talks, and in your physiology courses.  How might this also impact the development of other illnesses such as cardiovascular disease?
  3. Suggested: Consider the research on social isolation among baby boomers. As adolescent and young men age, what might this mean for health status and care throughout the life course?

(2) READ: The XX & XY Lie: Our Social Construction of a Sex and Gender Binary (15 min)

  • Goal: Introduce students to the sex and gender binary, the concept of intersex, and definitions of trans/non-binary identities

As you read the article, CONSIDER…

  1. What is your gender identity? How do you know this about yourself? What does this identity mean to you?
  2. Imagine not being able to see your anatomy or chromosomal makeup. Pause and reflect on how this does and/or does not impact your identity?

(3) READ: I Was Pregnant and in Crisis. All the Doctors and Nurses Saw Was an Incompetent Black Woman (5 minutes)

  • Goal: Introduce students to biases experienced by women in clinical settings and allude to the idea of intersectionality (racism and sexism; “misogynoir”)

As you read the article, CONSIDER…

  1. Intersectionality is defined by sociologist and legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw as, “the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.” Recalling your sessions on race, how is intersectionality at play in this essay?