everywomanChangemakers Podcast: Why are women ‘unreliable witnesses’ to their own bodies?’ meet the author challenging history’s healthcare gender bias

Elinor Cleghorn image

We expect modern medicine to uphold principles of evidence and impartiality and to be free of prejudice, including around gender. But the history of medicine is founded on bias toward the male form and patriarchal attitudes toward the understanding, expression and policing of women and their bodies have informed their care since Ancient times. With women presented throughout history as ‘unreliable witnesses’ to their own pain, illnesses and needs, how much of this implicit dismissal remains today?

In this month’s everywoman Changemakers podcast episode we talk to Elinor Cleghorn, author of Unwell Women — published June 2021 — about the need for change in provision for women’s health, and how the ability to speak up — and for people to hear the testimonies — around women’s experiences in healthcare systems is crucial to furthering gender equality.

Read a full transcript of this podcast here



01:15 – How did men corner the market in women’s health?

03:47 – Did men defining women’s bodies lead to structural oppression of women?

06:55 – Did you write the book because of your personal experience?

12:10 – Do women doctors still carry these biases?

16:09 – Is there a change in the way women are speaking out?

19:05 – Where should medicine be looking for answers?

23:08 – Has technology just inherited existing biases?

27:56 – What should women bear in mind when negotiating a medical environment?

31:24 – What is the change you’d like to see?


Unwell Women is out on 8 June (Dutton, £16.99, Hardback)


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