Gender Biology: Men and Women Really are Different 


  • Films on Demand. (1998). Gender Biology: Men and Women Really are Different (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. [Video file] [21 min 51 sec].
  • TedTalks: Bairey Merz, N. (2012). The Single Biggest Health Threat Women Face (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. [Video file] [15 min 55 sec].


n Module Two, we’ll be focusing on women’s health from a range of perspectives.

When considering women’s health, it’s important to understand the biological foundation.  This includes the role of hormones, reproduction, and chronic conditions that are more likely to affect women.  As women have become more active in the work world, they are experiencing stress in some of the same ways that men have traditionally experienced stress.  Consequently, women are increasingly experiencing illness that we have in the past associated more with men than women, including hypertension and heart disease.


Gender Biology: Men and Women Really are Different (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.. [Video file] [21 min 51 sec] – click link to begin video

Other key health issues for women include dieting, obesity, and body image.  Culture expectations play a role in the creating of these issues.  The use of alcohol and other substances are also important to consider in understanding women’s health.

As we consider the biology of women’s health, we also need to take into account transgender individuals. This may include but is not limited to; men who have chosen to become female and women who have chosen to become male.  Gender plays a role here, as we also consider men who identify as women and women who identify as men.  Lesbian women have some healthcare needs that are unique as well.

Traditionally, women have been more active healthcare consumers, as discussed in your textbook both for themselves and their families.  Yet, the medical system has traditionally held biases toward women in terms of how their complaints are viewed and how they are subsequently treated.

Given differences in economic opportunities for men and women, healthcare disparities also exist.  We will learn more about this topic in Module Six where we will study “Disadvantaged and Underserved Populations”.



An active discussion is the key to an interesting and engaging online course. Discussion in this course is designed to simulate a classroom discussion. As others join in the discussion, you should read what has already been posted and then add substantively to the discussion.

The modules in this course are one week in length. Time goes quickly, so remember to post early! Get in the habit of checking the discussions as often as you can to see what others have posted and to respond. The earlier in the week that you begin posting, the deeper the conversation and learning will be. We will go through each question one at a time together, discussing each one until we are ready to move on to the next question as a class. I will assist you in moving through the questions.

Read the following case and be prepared to discuss it with your class members.

Mary is a 48 year old woman. She is employed as a customer service representative in a large corporation. She has three children, one in college, one in high school, and one in middle school. She has a history of headaches, which she controls with a prescription medication. Lately, the headaches have been worse.

The first question in this discussion is opinion and experience-based, so you can begin immediately. For subsequent questions please meaningfully integrate your readings including the text, articles, and module notes.

1. Work with your classmates to complete the details in Mary’s story. Describe her home and work life. What factors in her life might be contributing to her headaches? What will she do about her headaches?

After reading the assigned textbook chapters for this week and watching the videos, respond to the following questions:

2. After reading Chapter Two in The Health of Men & Women, what biological factors might be causing Mary’s headaches? Any lifestyle factors?

3. After reading Chapter Three, what expectations would you have in terms of how Mary might address her headache symptoms?

4. Now that you have read the chapters and watched the videos, reconsider how you completed Mary’s story. Are there any ways in which you or your classmates might have reflected stereotypes regarding women’s health? Any assumptions you made that may reflect a bias in what might be causing Mary’s headaches or how she might respond? What stereotypes did you consciously avoid in attempting to tell Mary’s story?

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