Because of the priority schedule for early eligibility, the gender imbalance is likely to continue for a while.
💌 Love Philly? Sign up for the free Billy Penn email newsletter to get everything you need to know about Philadelphia, every day.
So far, many more women have gotten vaccinated in Philadelphia than men, according to city health department data.
Women account for 2 of every 3 vaccine recipients in Philly, making up 66% out of about 150k total doses administered. The gender imbalance, which holds true across the state and nation, has to do with who is eligible to get the shot right now, health officials say.
Philadelphia Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said the early skew was expected
“The vast majority of those in our database that have been vaccinated so far are health care workers,” Farley said last week, “which are more likely to be women.”
Health care workers made up the entire first group of vaccine recipients in Philadelphia — Phase 1A.
Across the U.S., 76% of all health care jobs are held by women, according to the U.S. Census. When it comes to the two largest categories — registered nurses and nursing/psychiatric home health aides — women make up 85% of the total.
The industry’s gender disparity has persisted for centuries, said Debra Lancaster, executive director for the Center of Women and Work at Rutgers University.
“Women are encouraged and cultured to go into those fields,” Lancaster told Billy Penn. “There is this occupational segregation, some of that can be explained by our culture. Then, how we think about the world in terms of gender roles.”
The jobs of nurses and nursing/home health aides are similar to what a mothers traditionally tasked with, caring and nurturing, she explained.
In Pennsylvania, there are around 750k health care workers. Nearly 7 of every 10 people who’ve received the state’s 1.1 million total doses have been women so far.
Women are favored in other early vaccine groups besides health care workers, too.
Anyone above the age of 75 in Philly and 65 in the rest of Pa. is eligible for the vaccine — and women make up a larger portion of the older population. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. women are projected to live 87.3 years to men’s 83.9 years.
Joshua Uy is the medical director for Renaissance Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center. His nursing home was the first in Philadelphia to have an outbreak back in March.
“Women may live healthier lives throughout the lifespan,” Uy said. “Exposing themselves to less dangers in their daily lives that could mean smoking, alcohol, lack of exercise, occupational hazards, recreational hazards.”
The 2016 National Study of Long-Term Care Providers reported that 65% of nursing-home patients are women. Uy estimated that 75% of his patients are women.
As the vaccine distribution goes on, there is a likelihood that the gender imbalance may continue. Education and childcare — current eligible in Philly and next up in Pa. — are also fields dominated by women