EmpowHer NY and The Bloc  

The Call

When it comes to getting proper healthcare, it shouldn’t matter what your gender or skin color is. Unfortunately, it still does.

Research has found that women of color are believed less by healthcare professionals simply due to the ongoing prevalence of unconscious bias, something that is not very surprising to the women who experience this. Also in the U.S., 14% of medical residents think Black skin is thicker than white skin; such bias leads to Blacks being 34% less likely to be prescribed proper pain medicine for conditions such as abdominal pain.

EmpowHer NY and The Bloc teamed to raise awareness of this issue with The Call, a video that shows an actress calling 24-hour nurse advice lines for help with a list of symptoms. But on some of the calls  she uses a “Black” name and a “Black” voice. In others, she’s a white woman named Sarah Shields.

The symptoms described make it clear the woman should seek emergency treatment at a hospital for appendicitis, but 77% of calls with the “Black” identity resulted in a recommendation for a visit to an urgent care facility, which is the protocol for minor issues. The “Black” identity also was asked five times as many questions as the “white” character.

The experiment was filmed and edited into a shareable online video, which was then deployed through social media platforms, influencers and EmpowHer NY’s own channels.

Launching on International Women’s Day in early March,  more than 7 million people watched the video on the first day. Following the release, there was a 630% increase in online bias training and a 415% increase in online conversations. The project also engaged dozens of influencers, from Oscar-winning actresses and female directors to activists and bloggers.