Skip to Main Content

Disparities in Female Health Care

This guide aims to address the gaps in medical research that contribute to female health disparity

Female as Other in MedicineFemale anatomy drawing showing organs and blood vessels

Dr. Michelle Harrison wrote that health care professionals have historically "underserved" women (1990) by:

  1. Overspecializing aspects of women's health particularly women's reproductive health. While specialization is good and even needed, the need to visit numerous specialists becomes a barrier to care. General practitioners should have a better, more holistic understanding of their female patients' bodies.
  2. Much of our medical knowledge was founded without consideration of female bodies. Historically, many medical researchers excluded female populations from their studies, for example by not recruiting human female participants, not using female animals, or not considering female cells in microbiology research.






Mikael Häggström

Searching the Literature

To access literature inspired by "Woman as Other" by Dr. Michelle Harrison, you can use Google Scholar to search for publications that cite her article directly or search for more relevant articles. For more information about using Google Scholar, please refer to this guide to learn how to set up your Google Scholar to include Gumberg's resources and this University of Southern California guide to learn how to conduct a citation search. Beyond this selected reading, "otherness" is a central concept within disciplines of sociology, and the following keywords and phrases can be used to find more publications involved in this discussion and its real world applications.

Key Terms Notes
Otherness Otherness is discussed across all dimensions of social category, so it is recommended that you specify your population of interest to return the most relevant results.
Invisible women               The concept of invisibility is another way researchers describe issues of exclusion from social systems and services.
Social identities There are many parts of our identity which includes race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age, etc. Isolating which social category you are interested in may help narrow your search.
Example Searches:

Click on the highlighted links to see the search or copy and paste this search into the suggested database.

Academic Search Elite: "women's health" AND otherness

APA PsycInfo: invisible women AND healthcare

Google Scholar: "Woman as Other: The premise of Medicine" citations

Google Scholar: "The Second Sex Woman as Other" by Simone de Beauvoir citations

Sociology Database: noft("health care") AND otherness


Selected Databases

For more relevant databases to search, you can browse through Gumberg's social sciences resources.


Additional Reading