Why Are We Still Dismissing Girls’ Pain?

From The New York Times authored by Laurie Edwards:

“I have a rare and painful genetic respiratory disorder called primary ciliary dyskinesia. I was 23 when doctors diagnosed my condition, but I had been sick my whole life. Again and again, I was told that I was suffering from nothing more than stress — that it was all in my head.

This is a common experience for young women. We have long known that women with some conditions are more likely than men to be under-treated for pain, and that doctors are more likely to dismiss reports of illness as psychosomatic when they come from women. Now, a recent study from Yale researchers shows how early this gender bias starts. The study found that when adult participants were asked to rate the perceived pain of a child receiving a finger prick to draw blood, they attributed more pain to the child they thought was a boy than they did to the child they thought was a girl.

The study’s authors associate these findings with “explicit gender stereotypes” that characterize men as more stoic about their pain and women as more emotional — and therefore, less credible.”

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