Women face a lack of representation everywhere, from Hollywood movies to Fortune 500 companies. It turns out that women are also inadequately considered when it comes to medical research. They’re falling through what’s known as the “health gap,” and the consequences are potentially deadly.
It wasn’t that long ago when women were excluded from clinical trials entirely. Although this has changed, it’s not mandatory to include half of the world’s population in research that studies medications and treatments for everything from cancer to cardiovascular disease.
What’s more, even when women are included in health-related projects and studies, scientists often don’t know how to interpret data in a way that’s relevant to women—or simply don’t bother.
This female-gender underrepresentation is maddening, for sure, and behind the time. But it’s also putting women’s health at risk, sometimes fatally.
Here are some reasons why:
- Heart disease kills more women than men every year, but less than a third of patients in heart-related research studies are women.
- More women than men are likely to experience certain mental-health conditions, but most related research and therapy is based on the male experience.
- Many prescription drugs and conventional treatments in use today have been disproportionately studied on men.
Change is happening to narrow the health gap, but not swiftly enough. There’s more than equality at stake; women’s lives are at risk.