Creating a Lens of Intersectionality

Monday, August 22, 2022, 10:00 am - 11:00 am CDT

Oxford defines Intersectionality as the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage; a theoretical approach based on such a premise. The intersectionality theory challenges us to consider social determinants, not in terms of single factors (e.g., gender or SES) but in terms of multiple interacting factors because disadvantage arises from a constellation of interrelated and intersecting social roles. Many well-recognized frameworks in academic medicine point to the importance of an intersectional perspective in medical research, medical education, patient care, and health economics.

By having professionals reflect, share, and collaborate on these principles this seminar can help them to uncover and address many of their own biases. To grasp this concept of intersectionality, we facilitate a reflection and sharing session to help healthcare professionals explore the many ways we identify ourselves and others, which of these identities form the core of how we think of ourselves or about others, and how the intersection of these identities affects the way we confront our lives, our colleagues, and our patients. We hope to model this educational session for the interprofessional attendees by having them participate in this seminar.

After creating a safe space to share openly, attendees outline their own social identities using a social identity wheel. Some groups as examples of social identity groupings are provided as a reference with this wheel, but participants are encouraged to use their own language. Tools were adapted from a resource from the Program on Intergroup Relations and the Spectrum Center at the University of Michigan. Attendees are then asked to share their chosen groups for each Identity with the group. These are shared in person within small groups and virtually using zoom polls. A reflection follows on the several ways those identities become visible or more keenly felt at various times, and how those identities impact the ways others perceive or treat us. These are shared in person by moving to social identity signs and virtually using zoom polls.

This activity is focused on getting to know each other’s experiences and having time to reflect on how we all can have similar or wildly different experiences rooted in our identities or experiences of them. Attendees then stop and consider these social identities from a patients’ perspective in a reflective discussion. This final reflective discussion is facilitated to ensure all objectives are addressed. We have hosted this session for an interprofessional group at a continuing education conference for health professionals and have data to share from the evaluations and pre and post questions

Explore the concept of intersectionality. 
Reflect on your own intersectional identities  
Explain the importance of creating a trusting relationship in which patients can safely disclose their identities and lived experiences. 
Apply knowledge of public health to communicate effectively and compassionately.