The Gender Pain Gap In Medicine


The podcast transcript discusses the topic of the gender pain gap in medicine. The host, Mike Dilk, speaks with Dr. Marika Bigg, a sociologist and author, and Hilary, a patient, to explore the differences in the time it takes for men and women to receive a diagnosis for various health conditions.

Dr. Marika Bigg explains that the male body is often treated as the default prototype in medicine, and much of the knowledge and research conducted in healthcare is based on male bodies. This means that many women’s health issues are neglected, misdiagnosed, or not appropriately addressed. The pain gap report aims to shed light on this issue and highlight the disparities in healthcare for men and women.

When asked about the historical roots of this problem, Dr. Bigg acknowledges that medicine has been shaped historically by men, with male scientists and medical professionals primarily asking questions that matter to them and their bodies. Although there are now more women healthcare professionals, the decision-makers and funding bodies are still predominantly men. This leads to issues specific to women, such as gynecology, being underfunded and not adequately investigated.

Furthermore, Dr. Bigg emphasizes that the knowledge and assumptions in medicine are still based on historical biases. The default assumptions about the human body are often male-centric, disregarding the unique aspects of women’s bodies. Women’s bodies differ not only in terms of reproductive systems but also in heart shape and size and pain signaling mechanisms.

The podcast also addresses the measurement of the gender pain gap. Dr. Bigg mentions the Gender Pain Gap Index report conducted by Neurofen, which quantifies and measures the extent of the problem. The report found that women, on average, take a longer time to receive a diagnosis for the same types of pain compared to men. This finding is based on surveys of around 5,000 participants.

In conclusion, the podcast highlights the gender pain gap in medicine, where women often face delays in receiving a diagnosis for their health conditions compared to men. This gap arises from historical biases, male-dominated decision-making positions, and the assumption that male bodies are the default prototype in medicine. The podcast emphasizes the importance of addressing this gap and ensuring that healthcare is equitable and responsive to the specific needs of women.