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Black women’s experiences of stereotype-related gendered racism in health care delivery during pregnancy, birth and postpartum


Societal knowledge and research about health disparities that affect Black women and individuals with the capacity to become pregnant lacks an acknowledgement of the historical and presently occurring effects of individually and structurally mediated racism. While stereotype threat is recognized in the field of social psychology as related to performance-based tasks, it may likely play a role in health care settings between patients and health care providers; what’s more, the concept of stereotype-related gendered racism mediates pregnancy-specific stress. This secondary analysis of data from a University of California, San Francisco Preterm Birth Initiative (UCSF PTBi) funded study, sought to center the experiences of Black women and validates both the presence of stereotype-related gendered racism and obstetric violence in the clinical setting and their contribution to outcomes for low-income Black women at risk for preterm birth; the parent study examined the interactions of person of color participants and their health care providers in San Francisco, California during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period. The present analysis exemplifies Black women’s lived experiences of stereotype-related gendered racism and that of obstetric racism. This thesis further aims to demonstrate to institutions who train health care providers, particularly those who will care for pregnant people, the harm that stereotype-related gendered racism and obstetric racism being upheld, and even taught, in the institutions can affect patients. This thesis begins to discuss how obstetric racism can be disrupted when training programs especially seek to disrupt, in Davis’ (2018) words, the “technological and medicalized dominance and disempowering medicalization of pregnancy, labor, birth” and postpartum care.

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