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The Women's Health Interschool Curriculum Committee of Ontario has developed goals and objectives for medical education based on a definition of women's health that includes emotional, social, cultural, spiritual and physical well-being. The author presents background information on how women have been treated as "other" and sex-role stereotypes have been reinforced by some of the assumptions, terminology and attitudes used in medical practice and research. The objectives address the biologic and social context of women's health, the effect of power differentials (particularly the imbalance in power between physicians and patients), sex-role stereotyping in medical practice and teaching, and the effect of individual physicians' attitudes toward women on the care they provide. These objectives are the first published effort to define what physicians should know about the social context of women's health. The committee encourages readers to debate, discuss and use these objectives.