The health industry should be geared toward providing effective and high-quality care to everyone. Unfortunately, gender equity remains elusive for both professionals and service users in the sector.
This isn’t just a matter of making certain there is representation for the benefit of women alone. The historical focus on men has meant valuable healthcare insights that could help us all have been limited. As such, it has to be a priority to make certain more women are encouraged into medical fields.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the ways more women in healthcare help ensure prosperity for all.
There is still a serious gender bias when it comes to health diagnoses. Part of the issue is the incorrect assumption that medical conditions present in women the same way they do in men.
The differences in symptoms between men and women frequently lead to male doctors failing to take women seriously. Female patients can take steps to mitigate doctors’ tendency to trivialize symptoms. Using patient advocates and projecting confidence in describing symptoms can be helpful. But the fact is, women shouldn’t have to use such tactics to get equal medical treatment.
This is where more women in all healthcare fields can make a tangible difference. More women general practitioners can use relevant insights when diagnosing their patients. Importantly, their presence in medical education can ensure the next generations of physicians of all gender identifications gain knowledge of women’s health issues for better diagnoses. Physicians with a more nuanced understanding of wellness tend to secure more positive outcomes for all patients.
Quality data is key to maintaining the health of the entire population. Without reliable information, medical professionals are unable to provide the most effective advice to patients. Lack of quality health data has impacted women’s health for centuries across various areas.
This isn’t just from the perspective of treatable illnesses, but also cognitive and learning challenges. A lack of gender-based studies into autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has led to many women not being tested for or diagnosed with ASD until much later in life. This, in turn, has meant women have been unable to access vital resources to help them navigate such challenges. As such, poor data in healthcare is a serious quality-of-life issue.
Individual patients aside, it’s also important to understand the role good data plays in wider public health efforts. Health agencies can gain a more accurate impression of health trends in certain geographical areas. Training health professionals to take patients seriously and pass on data can be instrumental in facilitating empowered health education and preventative measures. It also ensures other resources are directed in the right places. Placement of more women at all levels of medical research and public health analysis is essential to improving the overall quality and relevance of data.
Technological development and research are both key to improving and advancing the quality of healthcare for everyone. The digitally enhanced society we live in means we frequently benefit from the advantages new tools offer us. Indeed, this is a thriving area for medical careers; combining emerging applications with medical expertise can improve health outcomes for all.
However, the lack of gender equity in these fields can limit our advancement. Studies show us that having a diverse contributor base is a critical component to driving innovation. Whether as part of research and development (R&D) teams or on boards of medical technology companies, more women as influencers in medical technology can boost important advances. At a time when there are already too few women and girls in science, it is imperative to encourage female engagement in these career paths.
Indeed, it is just as important to ensure women across other traditionally marginalized communities—low income, transgender, and Black populations among others—have opportunities to contribute here. Everyone has valuable perspectives not only on technical development but also on how the posited digital tools may impact various sectors of the population. This improves the efficacy of such solutions for everyone.
Mental health is an area particularly disrupted by the absence of sufficient female insight. We can speak historically about the role “hysteria” has played in limiting women’s access to psychological healthcare resources. This not only provided a license for male physicians to dismiss those they considered to be “difficult women” who disagreed with doctors’ opinions. It also means women have frequently been psychologically mistreated or forced to face their mental health challenges alone.
This issue hasn’t vanished even though we live in a more progressive contemporary society. There is still too little understanding of the symptoms and consequences of trauma following disaster or hardship. Unless patients’ descriptions of their experiences following difficult periods are taken seriously, it is much harder to implement effective coping mechanisms and treatments. More women in mental healthcare fields can be instrumental in more than directly treating women experiencing trauma. They can also positively influence how mental health facilities and general practices develop effective protocols that are relevant to a wider range of patients.
There are potential personal, social, and economic knock-on effects here, too. Early and effective mental health treatment can minimize the need to take extended time off work, which helps individuals, families, and businesses. It can also prevent women untreated for mental wellness challenges from becoming unemployed and drifting into homelessness. Importantly, providing wider education on how mental wellness affects each of us differently can inform greater empathy and encourage informed compassion and support.
When more women are encouraged to join healthcare fields, everyone stands to benefit. To begin with, it is instrumental in improving knowledge of health conditions and providing women with more accurate diagnoses and treatments. There are also wider implications for public health data and boosting medical technology innovation. We should also be cognizant of how better knowledge of women’s mental health improves care but also has knock-on effects within the community. Medicine still sees significant gender disparity and there are ethical and practical reasons to urgently address this.
Noah Rue is a journalist and content writer, fascinated with the intersection between global health, personal wellness, and modern technology. When he isn’t searching out his next great writing opportunity, Noah likes to shut off his devices and head to the mountains to disconnect.