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The Secret Sexism in Healthcare

Updated: Mar 26, 2021

In honor of International Women’s Day, we want to share some insight into often neglected issues within women’s health. Gender bias is, unfortunately, still rampant in healthcare, in regards to both female patients and doctors. This discrimination has lead to the misdiagnosis and mistreatment of millions of women.

Over 20% of women feel that they have been treated differently by a medical professional because of their gender. 17% of women say they have felt dismissed or ignored by a health care provider. In the Johnson Center’s all-female team, we ensure that will never happen.

Why does sexism persist in healthcare?

A large reason why gender discrimination exists in medicine is due to gender differences in the system. Over 65% of physicians are men. Despite receiving the same training, there are differences in the quality of care provided by a male physician in comparison to a female. Further, women have long been excluded from clinical studies, such exclusion has lead to a widespread lack of medical knowledge about the female body. Women’s neglect in clinical trials is due to the false, yet widespread belief that men’s and women’s bodies only differ in terms of reproductive organs. This is false. The female body is different, and the ignorance of that has only furthered discriminatory practice in medicine.

Certain conditions have faced harsher consequences within the sexist healthcare system. Such conditions include:

Difference in Care

As made clear above, men and women receive very different treatment from medical professionals, but studies have also shown male and female physicians provide very different levels of care.

  • A 2018 study analyzed mortality rates of over 580,000 heart attack patients admitted in Florida over the course of 20 years. The researchers found that mortality rates for both women and men were lower when the treating doctor was a woman.

  • In 2016, Harvard conducted a study on over 1.5 million Medicare patients. The results demonstrated that patients treated by a female physician were less likely to die or be readmitted to the hospital over 30-days than those cared for by men. Statistically, the mortality difference was small, but when applied to the real world, it translates to 32,000 fewer deaths.

  • Research has suggested women are more likely to provide thorough medical care. Female doctors are more likely to follow recommendations for prevention counseling and to order preventative tests.

We are not using these statistics to suggest women are better doctors than men, but the difference in the implementation of care is likely the reason for such discrepancies. Studies by John Hopkins have proved that female doctors spend more time listening to their patients- on average, an extra 10% of the allotted time. Another study demonstrated that male doctors are much more likely to interrupt their patients in an effort to refocus the conversation. While male physicians only waited 47 seconds before interrupting, female doctors wait an average of 3 minutes.

Why JCH is different

With our all-female team, the Johnson Center for Health is unlikely to make the biased judgments and assumptions made by male physicians and other health care professionals. This is coupled with Dr. Johnson’s long history in the medical field- having worked with patients from every background of every shape and size. Moreover, at JCH, you will receive over an hour per appointment of Dr. Johnson’s unwavering attention- more than triple that of the average healthcare provider.

Dr. Johnson does not rely on sexist stereotypes or assumptions to make a diagnosis on a patient of any gender. Further, with our strong use of genomic testing, the Johnson Center will make every effort to truly understand and provide you with the proper care you deserve.


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