SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – As part of their lecture series during Women’s History Month, Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) hosted Professor Dorothy Roberts from the University of Pennsylvania to discuss racial inequality when it comes to the medical field.

Much like how biological factors can impact our health, Professor Roberts said societal factors like racism play a role as well.

Speaking with students at STCC, Roberts examined the invention of race and how it grew alongside the Enlightment Era, and that influenced scientists to see many of the health struggles that people of color experience as biological.

Roberts said that perspective, which still exists in the medical community, can be harmful in addressing health inequality.

“We’re talking about difference in lifespan, we’re talking about difference in quality of life. These are really important ways in which people’s lives are shaped by these social inequities,” said Roberts.

Roberts points to a recent example from the C.D.C. showing the maternal mortality rate is going up in the U.S. She added that black women are almost three times as likely as white women to die from pregnancy related causes.

Roberts is advocating to expand healthcare access and that we should not just look at ending inequality as a social issue, but also a way to improve people’s health.