Heartbreaking disregard of female perspective
In the last edition of the InsiderS, I reported on gender bias in evaluating grant proposals, as heard during a gender conference (http://nccr-planets.ch/gender-bias-erc-grant-evaluation/). Read here about some surprising insights concerning the gender dimension in academic research.
By Nadine Afram
This is from an interesting presentation about ‘gender equality and the gender dimension in academic research’. It dealt with aspects of Academic Medicine, for example with the research of myocardial infarctions, and offered some insightful facts that I try to summarise here. The list displays only the most striking statements that I managed to write down during the presentation:
- Women of a certain age die more often from infarctions than men in the same age group.
- Anatomic differences of a certain cardial disease are not displayed in the commonly used text book, there is only the male case.
- Although 52% of the world population is female, their symptoms (for infarctions) are called ‘less typical’ in comparison to the male symptoms.
- The cause for myocardial infarctions is mainly emotional stress for women and physical stress for men.
- Basic research is done mainly in male animals.
- The tested treatment only heals male rats!
- Neglection of female animals in the lab research could be the reason for the higher mortality in a certain age group.
- Men receive 80% of donated organs.
- Proposing research for describing the sex differences in animal modes or the human heart is evaluated as ‘lacking excellence’ and only ‘descriptive’ and will not get funded, despite its crucial necessity.
It was concluded: Gendered research should be a discipline on its own and get an own professorship
Unsurprisingly, the neglect of ‚the female side‘ in research on myocardial infarctions is a shocking item for everyone who becomes aware of it for the first time. Is research on the female anatomy and differences to the ‚typical‘ male case unnecessary, as long as the reproduction organs are well enough understood?
There are obviously research fields that are not equal for the male and the female case (such as tobacco vs. estrogen, and also osteoporosis that is mainly studied for women despite having more serious consequences for men).
There is a need for a more natural self-evidence for the necessity of such research. Overall, justifying these lines of research is a fair concept but apparently still necessary. Needless to say, having to justify it seems superfluous to me.[Notes from a presentation by Prof. Vera Regitz-Zagrosek (Charite Berlin) at the SNSF “Gender and Excellence: Challenges in Research Funding II” conference, 21 June 2016, Bern, Switzerland. Read more on the presentations here: http://www.snf.ch/SiteCollectionDocuments/Web-News/160705_news-gender-excellence_regitz_zagrosek_vera.pdf]
In the next issue, read about how to include the gender perspective in research and innovation projects.