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Professor Marlene Watson Discusses Racial and Gender Disparities in Health Care

March 21, 2013

Lining up law students by skin color and gender, with darker skinned individuals and women towards the back of the line, Dr. Marlene Watson, Associate Professor at the Drexel College of Nursing and Health, illustrated the sad reality that disparities in health care today exist on the basis of color and gender.

Watson explained that the health care system is rampant with bias.  Sexism and racism dictate who has access to treatment and who does not. 

Watson argued that the only way to change health disparities is to move away from the theoretical debate about racism and sexism and for students, like those in her audience, to forge genuine relationships with classmates from different backgrounds.  Watson said that forging valuable relationships with others is the best way to eliminate the preconceived stereotypes about the poor and minorities.

Watson claimed that the political aspects of health care make it difficult to eliminate bias.  It is also difficult to please all individuals, she said. However, Watson urged law students to question whether the ideals of individualism and meritocracy are valid in the modern health care debate or whether a new paradigm must be developed to address modern health care problems.