The gender gaps in health care outcomes are an important issue that, until recently, has been overlooked by the medical community and lawmakers. Despite the fact that a life expectancy for women is higher than that for men when it comes to heart attacks, females are “about twice as likely to die as their male counterparts.” Unfortunately, the disparity can be traced to all areas of health care providers in the country.
Gender roles are affecting the quality of mental health care and health care reform because society’s expectations about health differences between genders put women at a disadvantage. When in reality, women are more exposed to various stressors than men, it is perceived that the experience of being male is more stressful. It is especially important since stress contributes to the development of a wide range of mental illnesses and life-threatening conditions. Women’s experiences are also often misunderstood by healthcare providers whose recommendations for preventing heart diseases are based on a study in which females made up a minority of the subject population.
The existence of a pervasive bias against women is the most significant obstacle that prevents the medical community from closing the gender gaps. Other barriers include, but are not limited to, a lack of access to preventative health care services, traditional gender roles, high occupational stress, differences in cognitive appraisals and coping mechanisms, and “the psychologization of women’s ailments.” In order to close the gender gaps, it is necessary to channel political will towards conducting a comprehensive education reform. In addition, by changing the pattern of distribution of economic resources, it is possible to provide women with better access to preventative health care services.