We’re always hearing about gender bias in business and other areas, and it turns out that can also go for doctors when it comes to patients experiencing pain. A new study finds that doctors don’t necessarily take women’s pain as seriously as they do men’s, even when patients are suffering the exact same injuries.
According to the study, out of the University of Miami, observers, both male and female, often viewed men’s pain as more severe than women, even if both genders were experiencing the same amount of pain. Female patients’ pain was often judged as milder, and were offered relief through psychotherapy rather than medication. This could be a major issue because it can result in women not getting medication they need.
As for why, scientists believe it stems from long-held stereotypes that men are more “stoic” than women, so if men express their pain, it must be really, really bad.
- “If the stereotype is to think women are more expressive than men, perhaps overly expressive, then the tendency will be to discount women's pain behaviors," study authorElizabeth Losin explains. “The flip side of this stereotype is that men are perceived to be stoic, so when a man makes an intense pain facial expression, you think, "Oh my, he must be dying!" But, she adds, the truth is, “Women are not necessarily more expressive than men, and thus their pain expression should not be discounted.”