The problem with the phrase women and minorities: intersectionality-an important theoretical framework for public health

Am J Public Health. 2012 Jul;102(7):1267-73. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2012.300750. Epub 2012 May 17.


Intersectionality is a theoretical framework that posits that multiple social categories (e.g., race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status) intersect at the micro level of individual experience to reflect multiple interlocking systems of privilege and oppression at the macro, social-structural level (e.g., racism, sexism, heterosexism). Public health's commitment to social justice makes it a natural fit with intersectionality's focus on multiple historically oppressed populations. Yet despite a plethora of research focused on these populations, public health studies that reflect intersectionality in their theoretical frameworks, designs, analyses, or interpretations are rare. Accordingly, I describe the history and central tenets of intersectionality, address some theoretical and methodological challenges, and highlight the benefits of intersectionality for public health theory, research, and policy.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Minority Groups*
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Prejudice
  • Public Health*
  • Social Justice
  • Terminology as Topic
  • Women*