Medicine excludes women from their studies yielding biased results

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When a scientific field such as medicine actively excludes women, both as subjects and as researchers, it is impossible that the field will yield non-biased results in favor of men. This is manifested, for example, by poorly diagnosing women ([@criadoperez2020Invisible women: exposing data bias in a world designed for men]) in deceases that affect them specifically (for example, endometriosis), or in conditions that affect both genders, such as heart attack. Apparently, symptoms associated with heart attacks are different for men and women, but physicians are trained to identify only those symptoms in men, leaving women exposed to higher risks of dying from a preventable disease.

The problem of the gender bias in medicine is pervasive to many different instances, not just treatment, but also drug discovery (see bias towards men problems means less research focused on women health), and the involvement of funding agencies in skewing projects favoring male sickness. There’s also another aspect, less statistical, which is the treatment women receive by doctors. The fact that in many cases pain is dismissed as a psychological issue and does not grant the same level of attention that men receive when complaining about pain, means that women are badly diagnosed, untreated, or treated with the wrong medication.

The medical field is, at least according to [@criadoperez2020Invisible women: exposing data bias in a world designed for men chapters 10 and 11], severely handicapped by the lack of women data in what concerns not only women-only issues (related to menstruation, for example), but also general population issues, such as the effect of endurance exercise in the stiffness of arteries, or the effects of drugs: there is some evidence pointing to Viagra as a solution for menstrual pain, but there’s no interest either from the pharma industry nor for funding agencies to look into it, favoring the business focused solely on men and not on the other half of the world population.

Tags: #bias-in-medicine #gender-data-gap #gender-bias-in-medicine #gender-bias-in-market-research


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