Welcome to week 5!!
This week I continued to work on the experiment and research aspects of my study that could affect my results, specifically focusing on women’s treatments in medicine historically and in the modern day.
Historically, medicine has been male-dominated, with little to no female participation. Even going back as far as ancient Greece, women were misunderstood and seen as faulty and deficient, with philosophers like Aristotle claiming that they were deformed men, rather than a different gender, with their only medical and social value being connected to their uterus. And while science has evolved tremendously, women are still subjected to maltreatment by physicians: “Women are more likely to be offered minor tranquilizers and antidepressants than analgesic pain medication… less likely to be referred for further diagnostic investigations than men are. And women’s pain is much more likely to be seen as having an emotional or a psychological cause, rather than a bodily or biological one” (TIME). Unlike men, who are seen as the “blueprint”, women are often not believed or understood, and do not receive fair treatment by medical professionals, even in the modern day.
In terms of clinical research, women, again, are historically excluded. Until the 1970s, almost no women participated in medical research within the US. Many researchers were cautious, as certain drugs taken by women, such as Thalidomide, had resulted in deathly birth deformities of their children. However, failure to include women in clinical trials only increased the possibility of putting women at risk, as the effects of the drug on women would be unknown when the medicine was distributed to the public. In the 1980s, protests began pushing for female inclusion in important drug trials, such as the one for HIV, and by 1986, the National Institute of Health (NIH) announced that without the inclusion of women and minorities within a study, scientists would need to include a “rationale”. Even as inclusion became law, the majority of experimental participants were men. When researchers, doctors, and scientists refer to past research, they view data with a heavy male bias. Treatment of disease continues to revolve around men, specifically white men, making healthcare a disproportionate right.
In my study, I am heavily aware of the inherent gender bias within medicine. I am using an even number of male and female patients, and though it is not currently relevant to my study I am also keeping in mind patients who identify as neither female nor male. I am also considering the female experience as contributing to having white coat hypertension and taking this into account by marking whether a male or female medical professional had taken their blood pressure.
I will continue to address this bias in my study and will work on concluding my experiment and beginning my research paper in the next few weeks.
See you next week!!
Cleghorn, Elinor. “The Long History of Gender Bias in Medicine.” Time, 17 June 2021, https://time.com/6074224/gender-medicine-history/
National Institute of Health. NIH Inclusion Outreach Toolkit: How to Engage, Recruit, and Retain Women in Clinical Research. NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health, https://orwh.od.nih.gov/toolkit/recruitment/history.