Women’s Health

Women are not powerless.

This point was explored during a speech hosted Friday by The University of Georgia’s Institute for Women’s Studies.

Dr. Katie Darby Hein, professor of public health, lead the audience of mostly UGA undergraduate students through a broad discussion regarding women’s health issues; however, she centered her discussion around a present injustice.

Hein said the biggest health issues for women lie in the fact that most medical field professionals do not know much information regarding women’s health because many clinical trials continue to exclude women.

Hein proposed some excuses she believes account for the lack of women being studied ranging from sexism to hormones.

“[Hormones] are not appropriate reasons to exclude women from studies,” Hein said. “In fact, these are reasons that we need to include women in studies.”

However, when women’s health is studied, it is the “sexy” lens that it is viewed through that Hein believes is an area of emphasis that must be addressed.

“We study health issues that women experience around our reproductive system,” Hein said. “We look at women’s health through the lens of sex, and it is not sexy at all. We should be talking about health.”

As part of her overarching discussion regarding women’s health injustices, Hein did suggest a few health issues where women should devote their attention.

Hein said that the symptoms of a heart attack differ by biological sex; therefore, women need to recognize that their symptoms may look different from those of a male.

“The lecture was really informative. Health and science is not something that I study regularly, so I am really glad to now know information about HPV shots and the symptoms of heart attacks,” said Linzi Machini, a senior women’s studies and history major from Douglasville.

Dr. Cecilia Herles, the assistant director of the Institute for Women’s Studies, credited Hein for effectively articulating the problems associated with professionals’ current approaches to women’s health.

“Women’s health issues are only discussed in the context of reproductive issues and not in the larger scope of health issues facing women today,” Herles said. “[Hein] did a great job illustrating how sexism operates to further heighten struggles for women in terms of their bodies.”

As a whole, Hein told audience members that women have a role to play in improving their health statuses.

“I talked a lot about what we don’t know about our health, but know that there are things we can do. If you know something is wrong, then you need to advocate for yourself,” Hein said.

Friday’s lecture was one of several given this semester as a part of the Women’s Studies Friday Speaker Series hosted by the Institute for Women’s Studies.

“The main purpose of the series is to showcase research about women and gender. The faculty get the opportunity to showcase their work that is women’s studies related, and students get the opportunity to hear about the various ways that feminist scholarship is happening on campus,” said Terri Hatfield, program coordinator for the Institute for Women’s Studies.

She said the series was initiated in 1988, and currently, eight lectures are given on various Friday afternoons throughout the semester. The next lecture will take place Friday, Oct. 21. Refer to the UGA Master Calendar for more details.

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