Focus on gender and health at University of Leicester
A University of Leicester Professor will expose the problems with gender-specific health culture in a free public lecture on Tuesday 7 February.
Professor Ellen Annandale, of the Department of Sociology, will explain how stereotypical views of “men's health” and “women's health” are counterproductive to gender and health issues in her inaugural lecture on “Who's Worse Off? Quandaries in the Study of Gender and Health."
Professor Annandale will draw on research carried out for her book Women's Health and Social Change (Routledge, 2009) and other collaborative research for the lecture, which will touch on how changing gender roles have altered the health issues faced by men and women.
Professor Annandale said: “In most societies around the world, women live longer than men. Yet, women often seem to suffer more illness during their lives. However this is changing as the long-established life expectancy gap is closing in many affluent societies as men ‘catch up’ with women.
“The distribution of chronic illness and the ways that men and women think about and act on their health have also been changing.
“It has been common for researchers and policy makers to think about men and women as two distinct and divided groups. That is, they have taken a ‘binary approach’ to the study of gender and health. This is evident in the rapidly growing ethos of ‘gender-specific medicine’ which is dogged in its search for biological differences between men and women.
“It is also evident in the public health policy sphere. As resources get tight ‘women’s health’ and ‘men’s health’ advocates pit the health of men and women against each other in a bid to ascertain who is ‘worse off’.
“In this lecture I will argue that a binary approach is misguided and that ‘who’s worse off?’ is now the wrong question to ask when studying gender and health. Instead I will take an approach which starts from the premise that the lives of many women and men today are not divided in any simple way, but highly complex.
“It is not that women have ‘caught up’ with men or that the lives of men and women have converged, as is often popularly posed, but rather that gender relations are increasingly contested and laced with contradictions, all with significant implications for the ‘health lifestyles’, health status and healthcare of women and men.”
The lecture will be held at 5.30pm on Tuesday February 7 at Lecture Theatre 1, Ken Edwards Building, University of Leicester, University Road, Leicester.