4min readHealth 07 November 2019
A recent survey of British women reveals that healthcare professionals are not paying enough attention to women's reproductive health concerns and the results have proven to be far more dangerous for women than we have been led to believe
You may be familiar with the infamous phrase "Pink tax" which emerged in recent years as consumer reports discovered a significant disparity between the price of items marketed towards women as opposed to men. Every woman has seen it, the price of "female" products from clothing to personal care items marked up to a much higher price than the same items labelled and repackaged for men. However, the unfortunate reality of this concept exists on a much larger scale than toiletries–it is deeply rooted in the core of women's reproductive health which leaves women in a worse situation physically, financially and emotionally.
To put evidence of "Pink Tax" in more real-world terms, specialist lawyers Bolt Burdon Kemp and consultant gynecologist Dr. Anne Henderson conducted a survey of 2,000 Brits to find out the extent at which women are more disadvantaged. The study looked at four main factors when it came to reproductive health: how much women spend monetarily, the amount of time spent, the rate at which their issues remained unresolved and the emotional toll it took.
Women spend more money on healthcare than men
Basic healthcare products and medications are far from cheap, but for women, who typically require more products on a consistent basis, the costs are significantly greater than what men spend– 30% more, to be exact. Bolt Burdon Kemp's study revealed that women in Britain spend £45 more per year than men on sanitary products, incontinence products, painkillers, anti-sickness and intimate hygiene products. In total, that leaves women dishing out £372.36 per year on healthcare.
Not only are women spending more on healthcare products, but younger women have to spend more money than women over the age of 55 whose purchases typically focus on incontinence products as well as products related to menopause. On average, women between the age of 16-24 spend roughly £10-15 per month whereas women between the ages of 25-34 spend an average of £15-20 per month.
Women make more reoccurring doctor visits
Not only is reproductive healthcare costing women their hard-earned dollars, but it requires a huge sacrifice in time and effort to make repeated visits to the doctor's office. Approximately 235,000 British women have admitted to going to the doctor more than 10 times in the past year whereas no such statistic exists for men.
What makes this issue all the more frustrating is the level of difficulty that exists in merely securing an appointment. Dr. Henderson stated, "Accessibility to primary care is without doubt one of the leading problems facing women and men when it comes to health; partially due to cuts to the NHS. Women continuously cite lack of flexible access to appointments is a major issue to getting their reproductive issues seen to promptly." As women continue to prioritize work and family related responsibilities, the window of opportunity needed to secure and follow through with appointments has been slowly diminishing as time passes.
Women's healthcare issues are often unresolved
In addition to the taxing ordeal of getting an appointment within the timeframe most suited to women's individual needs, the amount of women who are left with unresolved medical issues is far greater than some would suspect. Women not only visit the doctor more often than men, but also cease treatment despite having their issues unresolved. Approximately 476,000 British women have gone back to their doctor more than 11 times due to their doctor's inability to resolve the issue after the first visit and 22% reported having stopped their medical treatment altogether.
You may be asking why women have been giving up on seeking treatment for health-related issues and the answer is simply because of the lack of knowledge, education and understanding that medical professionals have when it comes to catering to female reproductive health. Roughly 4 million women stated that they have no one to talk to about their reproductive health, 14% of which also find it difficult to even speak to doctors.
Dr. Henderson admits that while patients still trust their doctors, that trust is far less than it was 20 years ago. "For many GPs, training in reproductive health is rudimentary; their only knowledge tends to be theoretical," says Dr. Henderson. Patients also prefer to turn to social media and the internet for answers to their health-related questions which not only diminishes the need to visit the doctor in the eyes of some, but patients now feel more well equipped to question their doctors diagnosis and treatment.
The Emotional Cost
The exhausting dilemma of dealing with societal and financial pressures women have endured has steadily heightened as the emotional toll has begun running its course. While some women are able to skip an appointment or two or even manage their symptoms seemingly well on their own, this reality is merely a dream for women who are suffering with undiagnosed and unresolved health issues. Bold Burdon Kemp's research revealed, unsurprisingly, that 11% of women admit to feeling unheard and dismissed when speaking up about their health while 26% admit to feeling stressed out about their reproductive health.
Although these statistics are upsetting, to say the least, the reality of what women have been enduring, as well as the future of their health, is frightening. Women's healthcare has become more of a profitable business rather than a viable source of help. Bolt Burdon Kemp's study serves to raise awareness about the growing issues surrounding reproductive health and the true cost women must pay in getting their concerns addressed and resolved. Senior Solicitor at Bolt Burdon Kemp, Olivia Boschat, wants women to be encouraged by this information to prioritize their reproductive health enough to continuously seek help rather than succumb to the pressures of day-to-day life.
What ultimately needs to happen in order to create a more reliable healthcare system and much needed equality between men and women's healthcare products and medications, is more education, funding and most importantly, more women seeking help and speaking up about their health concerns.
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4 Min Read
During a recent meeting on Microsoft Teams, I couldn't seem to get a single word out.
When I tried to chime in, I kept getting interrupted. At one point two individuals talked right over me and over each other. When I thought it was finally my turn, someone else parachuted in from out of nowhere. When I raised and waved my hand as if I was in grade school to be called on (yes, I had my camera on) we swiftly moved on to the next topic. And then, completely frustrated, I stayed on mute for the remainder of the meeting. I even momentarily shut off my camera to devour the rest of my heavily bruised, brown banana. (No one needed to see that.)
This wasn't the first time I had struggled to find my voice. Since elementary school, I always preferring the back seat unless the teacher assigned me a seat in the front. In high school, I did piles of extra credit or mini-reports to offset my 0% in class participation. In college, I went into each lecture nauseous and with wasted prayers — wishing and hoping that I wouldn't be cold-called on by the professor.
By the time I got to Corporate America, it was clear that if I wanted to lead, I needed to pull my chair up (and sometimes bring my own), sit right at the table front and center, and ask for others to make space for me. From then on, I found my voice and never stop using it.
But now, all of a sudden, in this forced social experiment of mass remote working, I was having trouble being heard… again. None of the coaching I had given myself and other women on finding your voice seemed to work when my voice was being projected across a conference call and not a conference room.
I couldn't read any body language. I couldn't see if others were about to jump in and I should wait or if it was my time to speak. They couldn't see if I had something to say. For our Microsoft teams setting, you can only see a few faces on your screen, the rest are icons at the bottom of the window with a static picture or even just their name. And, even then, I couldn't see some people simply because they wouldn't turn their cameras on.
If I did get a chance to speak and cracked a funny joke, well, I didn't hear any laughing. Most people were on mute. Or maybe the joke wasn't that funny?
At one point, I could hear some heavy breathing and the unwrapping of (what I could only assume was) a candy bar. I imagined it was a Nestle Crunch Bar as my tummy rumbled in response to the crinkling of unwrapped candy. (There is a right and a wrong time to mute, people.)
At another point, I did see one face nodding at me blankly.
They say that remote working will be good for women. They say it will level the playing field. They say it will be more inclusive. But it won't be for me and others if I don't speak up now.
- Start with turning your camera on and encouraging others to do the same. I was recently in a two-person meeting. My camera was on, but the other person wouldn't turn theirs on. In that case, ten minutes in, I turned my camera off. You can't stare at my fuzzy eyebrows and my pile of laundry in the background if I can't do the same to you. When you have a willing participant, you'd be surprised by how helpful it can be to make actual eye contact with someone, even on a computer (and despite the fuzzy eyebrows).
- Use the chatbox. Enter in your questions. Enter in your comments. Dialogue back and forth. Type in a joke. I did that recently and someone entered back a laughing face — reaffirming that I was, indeed, funny.
- Designate a facilitator for the meeting: someone leading, coaching, and guiding. On my most recent call, a leader went around ensuring everyone was able to contribute fairly. She also ensured she asked for feedback on a specific topic and helped move the discussion around so no one person took up all the airtime.
- Unmute yourself. Please don't just sit there on mute for the entire meeting. Jump in and speak up. You will be interrupted. You will interrupt others. But don't get frustrated or discouraged — this is what work is now — just keep showing up and contributing.
- Smile, and smile big. Nod your head in agreement. Laugh. Give a thumbs up; give two! Wave. Make a heart with your hands. Signal to others on the call who are contributing that you support and value them. They will do the same in return when your turn comes to contribute.
It's too easy to keep your camera turned off. It's too easy to stay on mute. It's too easy to disappear. But now is not the time to disappear. Now is the time to stay engaged and networked within our organizations and communities.
So please don't put yourself on mute.
Well, actually, please do put yourself on mute so I don't have to hear your heavy breathing, candy bar crunching, or tinkling bathroom break.
But after that, please take yourself off mute so you can reclaim your seat (and your voice) at the table.