The need for feminist intersectionality in digital health

Elsevier, The Lancet Digital Health, Volume 3, August 2021
Figueroa C.A., Luo T., Aguilera A., Lyles C.R.

Digital health, including the use of mobile health apps, telemedicine, and data analytics to improve health systems, has surged during the COVID-19 pandemic. The social and economic fallout from COVID-19 has further exacerbated gender inequities, through increased domestic violence against women, soaring unemployment rates in women, and increased unpaid familial care taken up by women—all factors that can worsen women's health. Digital health can bolster gender equity through increased access to health care, empowerment of one's own health data, and reduced burden of unpaid care work. Yet, digital health is rarely designed from a gender equity perspective. In this Viewpoint, we show that because of lower access and exclusion from app design, gender imbalance in digital health leadership, and harmful gender stereotypes, digital health is disadvantaging women—especially women with racial or ethnic minority backgrounds. Tackling digital health's gender inequities is more crucial than ever. We explain our feminist intersectionality framework to tackle digital health's gender inequities and provide recommendations for future research.