Feminism meets the "new" epidemiologies: toward an appraisal of antifeminist biases in epidemiological research on women's health

Soc Sci Med. 2001 Sep;53(5):553-67. doi: 10.1016/s0277-9536(00)00360-9.


This essay explores an alternative paradigm for epidemiology, one which is explicitly informed by a feminist perspective. We intend to expand upon recent critiques and debates within the emergent fields of "critical", "popular", and "alternative" epidemiology to examine how epidemiology's conceptual models--which are meant to contribute to the prevention of social inequalities in health, but may instead reinforce social hierarchies based on gender, race, and class--constrain our understanding of health and disease. Specifically, we examine persistent antifeminist biases in contemporary epidemiological research on women's health. Issues highlighted include: problem definition and knowledge production in women's health: biological essentialization of women as reproducers; and decontextualization and depoliticization of women's health risks. As part of this critique, we include suggestions for an emancipatory epidemiology that incorporates an alternative feminist framework.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Epidemiologic Studies*
  • Female
  • Feminism*
  • Humans
  • Prejudice
  • Public Health
  • Reproduction
  • Risk Factors
  • Selection Bias*
  • Socioeconomic Factors*
  • Women's Health*