Study Finds Higher Levels of Black Maternal Mortality Due to Effects of Racism ad Sexism

A new study led by Evelyn J. Patterson, an associate professor of sociology and law at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, finds that the effects of racism and sexism lead to higher maternal mortality rates among Black women in the U.S. than previously realized.

Using data from the National Vital Statistics System, Dr. Patterson and her colleagues examined the maternal mortality rates in the U.S. from 2015 to 2019. They measured the rates two ways — using maternal causes as an underlying cause of death and also as one of multiple causes of death. The data revealed a much greater disparity between women of color and White women than had been determined in other studies. The authors found that maternal mortality rates for Black women in their early 20s are consistent with those of White women in their mid-30s or older. “Thee disparities by race are large and speak to the structural racism and sexism systems in U.S. society,” Patterson said.

“Black feminists have done a great deal of work to bring visibility to women of color and the exacerbated burden they carry,” Dr. Patterson added. “This study illustrates the ways that some measures of health mask this burden, or rather death penalty, by demonstrating how racism and sexism work together to weaken the likelihood of motherhood not only via infant mortality, but also maternal mortality.”

Dr. Patterson is a graduate of Rice University in Houston, where she majored in statistics. She holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in demography and criminology from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Patterson joined the faculty at Vanderbilt in 2010.

The full study, “Gendered Racism on the Body: An Intersectional Approach to Maternal Mortality in the United States,” was published in the journal Population Research and Policy Review. It may be accessed here.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

Cheyney University of Pennsylvania Placed on Accreditation Probation

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education stated that the university fell short in meeting requirements in financial planning and budget processes and compliance with laws, regulations, and commission policies.

Two Black Women Scholars Who Are Taking on New Assignments in Higher Education

Penelope Andrews was appointed the John Marshall Harlan II Professor of Law at New York Law School and Angela D. Dillard, the Richard A. Meisler Collegiate Professor of Afroamerican and African Studies at the University of Michigan, was given the added duties of the inaugural vice provost for undergraduate education.

Tuskegee University Partners With Intel to Boost Black Presence in the Semiconductor Industry

Participating Tuskegee students will have a chance to gain hands-on skills in engineering design, semiconductor processing, and device fabrication technologies and an overall valuable experience working in the microelectronics cleanroom fabrication facility at Tuskegee University.

K.C. Mmeje Honored by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) Foundation

K.C. Mmeje is vice president for student affairs at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. The NASPA Pillars of the Profession Award acknowledges remarkable individuals within the student affairs and higher education community who demonstrate exceptional contributions to both the profession and the organization.

Featured Jobs