Are Gender Gaps Killing American Women?

Barb Provost

It seems logical to believe that both men and women would receive the same quality of healthcare while living in the same country, but new evidence is showing that may not be the case at all.

That's because doctors simply don’t seem to account for the differences between male and female bodies. For example, women are more likely to die than men when being treated for identical conditions. 1

This is especially true when male physicians are treating these patients and the “male-only approach” takes precedence. The disparity can also be explained by the reality that, for the most part, women have been excluded from drug trials and other areas of medicine, limiting the outcomes that could reasonably be expected. 

The interesting side of this is that a parallel issue can also be seen when it comes to women and finances. Just as can be seen in healthcare, female professionals are continuously ignored and excluded, so their needs fail to be properly identified. And, unsurprisingly, the financial needs of women differ greatly from men. Because of this, American women are still 35% more likely to be impoverished than men, truly highlighting the burden that they carry. 2  

This article seeks to discuss the ways that gender gaps have, and continue to, fail women on multiple fronts.

Women Must Prepare For A Different Future

It’s easy for people to roll their eyes at statistics surrounding pain bias, and how women in pain wait longer and are ignored more often in emergency departments than men. 3

It is a different story, however, to learn that women are dying at higher rates than men from identical health conditions. Women, particularly older women, who survive a critical emergency and make it to the hospital then must deal with a lower likelihood of being admitted to the ICU, decreased instances of life-saving intervention, and ultimately an increased chance of death. 4

Sex disparities are real in the US medical establishment, end the lives of untold women, and need to be recognized. 

As mentioned above, health isn’t the only area women need to place their focus though. When it comes to female finances, preparing for an emergency is crucial. Research shows that, despite the fact that women are more concerned about market volatility, they are less likely to be financially prepared to deal with one. 5

They are also less likely to work with a financial advisor, which is one area that must be changed, considering the fact that nearly 20% of women have absolutely nothing saved for retirement. 6

The Gap Is Even Wider For Women of Color

Unfortunately, the heartbreaking reality surrounding gender discrimination, patient bias, and financial discrimination doesn’t end there. There is one more gap that deserves serious attention, and that is the massive disparity between white women and women of color. In health, when it comes to pregnancy outcomes, for example, black babies and mothers are suffering and dying at much higher rates than any other race in the country. The numbers are sobering. 2018 statistics discovered that black mothers were nearly four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women, three times more likely to experience preterm birth, and more than twice as likely to lose their baby in its first year of life. 7

And the results were no different, even when financial and educational factors were accounted for. 

Not by coincidence, this same gap can be seen between black and white women when it comes to their finances. A groundbreaking study in 202 compared the wealth of single white women with that of single black women and discovered something terrifying. On average, single white women between 36-49 years old had a wealth of about $42,600. The total wealth of a single black woman totaled up to $5. 8

Where Do We Go From Here?

Handling the severe disparities that women deal with head-on can be extremely overwhelming. This is a cycle that began more than 4000 years ago. But, one of the best ways to overcome it is by talking about it. This is a discussion that has been delayed for far too long, and things can only be changed if the problem is first acknowledged.

Some other considerations that could be made to lower the ever-present gender biases that still exist in our healthcare and financial systems include:

  • Create Protocols: It’s time to remain conscious of the bias that exists by creating protocols to offset them. Checklists and protocols can be employed to ensure the equal treatment of everyone while keeping professionals mindful of the potential for bias.

  • Make Diversity a Priority: The more diverse a team is, the better cared for customers are, and the more a business grows. This is because their diverse teams have a more well-rounded approach, with more gender- and race-specific considerations being made. Male and female professionals think differently and have different outcomes, so having both on a team is so important.

  • Continue Collecting Data: The only reason this is even a discussion is because of the data that has already been collected and shared. Many people had an inclination that inherent gender bias existed within these systems, but the truth couldn’t really be brought to light without the numbers. More data means more proof and more solutions. 

 

References

  1. Cedars Sinai Examining Gender Bias in Medical Care
    https://www.cedars-sinai.org/research/news/cedars-science/2019/examining-gender-bias-in-medical-care.html

  2. The Women’s Legal Defense and Education Fund Women and Poverty in America
    https://www.legalmomentum.org/women-and-poverty-america

  3. BBC Pain Bias: The Health Inequality Rarely Discussed
    https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20180518-the-inequality-in-how-women-are-treated-for-pain

  4. NCBI Sex Matters: Gender Disparities in Quality and Outcomes of Care
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2096490/

  5. Client Service Women Investors Less Financially Prepared than Men
    https://www.planadviser.com/women-investors-less-financially-prepared-men/

  6. CNBC Nearly 1 in 5 Working Women have Nothing Saved for Retirement
    https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/05/nearly-1-in-5-working-women-have-nothing-saved-for-retirement.html

  7. Midwives Alliance of North America Racial Disparities in Birth Outcomes
    https://mana.org/healthcare-policy/racial-disparities-in-birth-outcomes

  8. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Study Finds Median Wealth for Single Black Women at $5
    https://www.post-gazette.com/business/businessnews/2010/03/09/Study-finds-median-wealth-for-single-black-women-at-5/stories/201003090163

 

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