Date of Defense



Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. Ashlyn Kuersten

Second Advisor

Linda Lumley

Third Advisor

Dr. Sushi Datta-Sandhu


America is founded on patriarchal principles and women have traditionally been treated as second class citizens. The deeply rooted belief that the purpose of women is to serve as wives and mothers has affected women economically, politically, and socially. Women have been denied the basic rights of American citizenship—the rights to vote, own property, and enter into contracts. In addition, women have also been restricted in the labor force and denied education. The laws and policies that have tried to limit women to the role of wife and mother have carried over into the nation's health care system and have had an adverse impact on women's health, as well. Medical research policies have excluded women from studies so they have not been provided accurate health information. In addition, public insurance programs fail to provide adequate care for the disproportionate number of women enrolled in these programs. Although research policies have changed recently and various health care reform strategies are being explored, the laws and polices that have shaped America's health care system have had an adverse impact on the quality of women's health. Several strategies have been proposed to reform the nation's health care system. One proposal is to use tax credits to induce coverage for the uninsured. This would allow for the expansion of Medicaid and Medicare without shifting a disproportionate cost to the states and their constituents. Another strategy that several states are considering is the use of Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs). The MSAs allow beneficiaries a limited dollar amount to spend on health services, giving them more control over their health care assistance and providing the incentive to use their allowances wisely. However, as various reform strategies are being explored and the new research policies slowly provide more accurate information on women's health, American women will be waiting for the policy improvements that will attempt to remedy the problems previous policies have created.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Campus Only