Dr. Anita Raj

Professor, Infectious Diseases & Global Public Health, School of Medicine


Dr. Sara Gianella Weibel

Associate Professor of Medicine, UC San Diego

Safe— It’s all in your head: Medical gaslighting in women’s health

The Dissecting Visions of Identity and Care in the Future series evaluates how cinema’s interpretation of the future frames humankind within intersections of surveillance, race, healthcare, identity, and A.I. advancements. We are particularly interested in how the technological advancements presented in these films have implications for present day systemic injustices.

In this presentation, Dr. Raj and Dr. Gianella discuss the dismissive and discriminatory realities women face when seeking medical care and diagnostic accuracy, particularly for women of color.

Media Arts Center San Diego San Diego, CA

Film Synopsis

An affluent and unexceptional homemaker in the suburbs develops multiple chemical sensitivity.

Carol White (Julianne Moore) lives with her husband and son in suburban comfort until she collapses one day, for no apparent reason. Her condition worsens in the weeks that follow, as she suffers from coughing fits, exhaustion, and spontaneous nose bleeds, triggered by sources as disparate as car exhaust, cologne, and the sun. Failing to find any medical explanation for her maladies, her doctor refers her to a psychiatrist, who suggests that her physical ailments are psychosomatic—a theory echoed by her callous and increasingly frustrated husband. At her wits' end, Carol withdraws to an expensive New Age retreat for sufferers of "20th century disease," where the community's guru (Peter Friedman) champions a dubious regimen of diet, climate control, introspection, and self-love.

About the Speaker

Anita Raj is a Tata Chancellor Professor of Society and Health. She is a Professor in both the Departments of Medicine and Education Studies and the Director of the Center on Gender Equity and Health (GEH). Her research, including both epidemiologic and intervention studies, focuses on sexual and reproductive health, maternal and child health, women’s economic empowerment, and gender inequalities including gender-based violence and child, early and forced marriage. Dr. Raj has approximately 300 peer-reviewed publications, and her work has been featured in major media outlets in the US, the UK, and in India. She created and leads the EMERGE platform, which provides open access to evidence-based measures on gender equality and empowerment (GEE), builds national indicators on GEE in global survey research partners for tracking SDG5, and provides trainings and technical assistance for researchers and implementers on measurement science and empowerment. She also created and leads the CalVEX study which involves state-wide survey research and supportive qualitative data on violence and health in California. She has served as an advisor to UN Women, UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the David and Lucille Packard Foundation, and was invited to speak at the UN General Assembly on the issue of child marriage. She also serves as advisor and grantee to Blue Shield of California Foundation and Kaiser Permanente on issues of social and health policies for California based on the work of CalVEX. In 2019, she helped spearhead two groundbreaking journal special issues on Gender Equality and Health for the Lancet and for Social Science and Medicine- Population Health. This work was conducted as part of the Center on Gender Equity and Health’s advancements in gender data science research and in preparation for Beijing Plus 25, a global initiative with the UN to improve gender equality and empowerment globally.” Since 2020, she has been leading research and measurement in the area of COVID-19 and gender and secondary impacts of the pandemic on women and socially marginalized groups in the US and globally.

Sara Gianella Weibel, M.D., graduated from the University of Zurich (Switzerland). After her residency in Internal Medicine and Infectious Disease in Switzerland, she began her fellowship in the Department of Infectious Disease and Hospital Epidemiology of the University Hospital of Zurich in 2007. She moved to UC San Diego in 2009 to work as a postdoctoral fellow with Drs. Douglas Richman and Davey Smith. She joined the faculty of the Department of Medicine (Division of Infectious Diseases and Global Public Health) in 2013, and currently works both at the UC San Diego Antiviral Research Center, and in her laboratory on the UC San Diego campus, where she performs bench research. Additionally, Dr. Gianella Weibel directs the San Diego Center for AIDS Research (SD CFAR) Translational Virology Core, a position she has held since 2017.