Researchers at Harvard’s GenderSci Lab Discover Connections Amongst Race, Intercourse, and Covid-19 Mortalities | Information
Researchers at the GenderSci Lab at Harvard examined the intersectionality of race, gender, and Covid-19 mortality, as described in a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine earlier this month.
Previous studies have shown that the death rate from Covid-19 is higher in men than women and higher in blacks than whites. Unlike previous studies, this new paper – a collaboration between Harvard, MIT, the University of Adelaide, and the University of Southern Maine – found that the gender differences vary widely by race.
Black men in Michigan have the highest Covid-19 death rate – more than six times that of white men, according to the newspaper. Using data from Georgia and Michigan, the researchers also found that black women had a death rate more than three times higher than that of white or Asia-Pacific islanders.
“It’s black men who have the highest rates by far, which is striking,” said lead author and Harvard PhD student Tamara S. Rushovich.
Rushovich also highlighted the importance of noting that the inequality in Covid-19 death rates between black men and black women is greater than the inequality between white men and white women.
“That makes us think that there must be some influence of racism and social factors influencing inequality between men and women, aside from possible biological mechanisms,” Rushovich said. “There are very likely some social factors and an environmental context.”
Undergraduate research fellow Amelia F. “Mimi” Tarrant ’21 said finding that black women have a higher death rate than white men and Asia-Pacific islanders makes it difficult to draw the simplified conclusion that men are more likely due to Covid-19 die as women.
“So this universal claim that men perform worse than women does not hold true when interacting with race and ethnicity,” said Tarrant.
Tarrant hopes the results will provide a “critical lens” for studying the effects of Covid-19 on different populations.
“It is really important that we have conversations about the interaction of gender and gender, as well as race / ethnicity, to really understand a person’s risk for COVID-19 as it is very easy to get a bigger picture that level is actually not applicable to the person, ”she said.
Tarrant noted that previous demographic studies of Covid-19 death rates often focused on biological factors rather than taking social and cultural factors into account.
“There has been a lot of rhetoric about the sex essentialism of men versus women, and the risk of sex and gender and how that differs between men and women,” Tarrant said. “I think too extreme a biological perspective is very problematic and not understanding that other factors – especially social factors – play a role that are often more gender-related.”
Although the study does not suggest a declarative explanation of its findings, the researchers suggested that future research could examine whether social factors such as housing conditions, existing comorbidities, access to health care, and occupations could be responsible for the nature of the differences observed.
“Who carries out which important worker jobs that could expose them to Covid more, who has more access to tests because of their employment, who can work from home?” Asked Rushovich.
– Kate N. Guerin can be reached at email@example.com.