Why Focus on Women?

The Need

Understanding The Challenge

  • Stroke is often thought of as a “man’s disease”, yet 61 percent of stroke deaths occur in women.
  • Stroke kills twice as many Caucasian women as breast cancer and AIDS combined.
  • Nearly one in five women over 45 will have a stroke by age 85. In contrast, the lifetime risk for breast cancer is one in nine.
  • The risk of stroke in African-American and Hispanic women is two to three times that of Caucasian women.
  • Two-thirds of American women don’t know stroke symptoms, or that stroke requires immediate medical attention.
  • Stroke is the No. 2 cause of death and No. 1 cause of disability among women worldwide.
  • Every day, more women suffer preventable stroke, more women fail to get the acute medical care they need, and more women miss the opportunity to recover function after stroke.

Finding The Answers

Since the physiology of women's bodies is different from men's in many ways, stroke preventions and treatments may affect women differently. Yet, very little research has been directed toward understanding gender differences in stroke and cerebro-vascular disease.

In fact, virtually no public or private funds have been available to study the questions, meet the pressing needs, or disseminate to the public the insights research is providing.

Finding solutions will require more research — both basic and clinical — to understand the how and why of gender disparities, and more education to improve knowledge of stroke risk factors and prevention, symptoms, acute care, and recovery.

The Goddess Fund is committed to advancing scientific research and education to help overcome the many barriers to optimal care of women with stroke. Your support will help us find the answers so desperately needed.


  • Strengthening recognition of the distinct patterns of stroke in women to enhance prevention and treatment.
  • Improving healthcare responsiveness to the unique needs of women with stroke.
  • Raising awareness of stroke risk factors and interventions to decrease women’s risk.
  • Improving recognition of stroke warning signs and the need for immediate medical attention.
  • Promoting public understanding of acute stroke treatment.
  • Cultivating knowledge about proven strategies for stroke treatment and rehabilitation.
  • Understanding and overcoming barriers to care, such as the tendency for women to delay seeking emergency treatment, and to wait longer to receive such care.


  • Defining incidence, risk factors, and other epidemiological factors contributing to stroke in women.
  • Delineating unique patterns of stroke development in women.
  • Resolving how female reproductive hormones impact risk, acute damage, immediate care, and recovery from stroke.
  • Understanding gender differences in surgical and pharmaceutical therapies for stroke.
  • Investigating solutions to gender inequities in medical care of women with stroke.
  • Determining what factors unique to women may enhance post-stroke rehabilitation.
  • Understanding how psychosocial aspects unique to women impact stroke prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation.