HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Topics » Gender & Orientation » History of Feminism (Group) » How feminist biology is c...

Sun May 18, 2014, 11:03 PM

How feminist biology is challenging science's gender biases

Is the science of biology sexist? Last week, in a co-written article for the journal Nature, the director of the US National Institute of Health (NIH) publicly admonished scientists for testing drugs and theories on male lab rats, tissues and cells, while excluding females for fear their hormone cycles might distort results. Research, the authors wrote, suggests females' cycles are no more distortionary than males'. Now all studies that apply to the NIH will be vetted for an appropriate balance of male and female subjects.

Such practices are part of the reason the University of Wisconsin-Madison established a new science fellowship last month to "uncover and reverse the gender bias in biology". Wittig Fellows of Feminist Biology will spend two years in the women's studies department critiquing biased research and producing new theories that "reflect feminist approaches".

The move is not without its critics. In a video for the American Enterprise Institute, Christina Hoff Sommers (also an opponent of "herstory", the retelling of history through female eyes) compared it to "galgebra" and "femistry", fake subjects Lisa Simpson considers taking at Yale.

Professor Janet Hyde, director of the Wisconsin-Madison women's studies department and creator of the new fellowship, is not surprised by the backlash. In an interview with New York magazine, she said the first fellows will have to do "spectacular research" to get any scientific respect.


http://www.theguardian.com/science/shortcuts/2014/may/18/feminist-biology-challenging-sciences-gender-biases

Christina Hoff Sommers hardly counts as a 'critic' just a wing nut.

16 replies, 2043 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread

Response to ismnotwasm (Original post)

Sun May 18, 2014, 11:49 PM

1. ahh, great !!

 

From what I have gathered over the years, most (not all) drugs and protocols were developed using white males as the test group.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ismnotwasm (Original post)

Sun May 18, 2014, 11:55 PM

2. I have been aware for probably thirty years now that

 

drugs are generally tested on men, and the possibility that women may respond differently has been overlooked.

It's a lot like the assumption that the male viewpoint, or the male behavior is the norm, and that women are simply an aberration. As a woman I've always been greatly bothered by this.

Just for a few minutes stop and think, think about considering women and the female body as the norm and men as the aberration. Never having monthly cycles? How totally bizarre and abnormal. Never being pregnant? How very wrong.

And so on.

Men and women are different. Men can be the norm for males, and women can be the norm for females, but don't ever confuse the two.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to SheilaT (Reply #2)

Mon May 19, 2014, 01:09 AM

4. Of course, they rationalized by claiming that they could not get assess the

effects drug because they did not know how to adjust for female hormones. They didn't know how to adjust for male hormones, either, but that apparently never occurred to them.

Nor did it occur to them that they had a duty to test a drug on women as well as on men before okaying it for use by everyone, if they thought a drug might affect women differently.

But, what do you expect when you convince women that their role is housewife, then keep them out of colleges and professions? And then, they complain about affirmative action!

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ismnotwasm (Original post)

Mon May 19, 2014, 01:04 AM

3. This has gone on for a very long time.

I think the mind boggling Framingham heart study was 50 years old before it was publicized that they studied only men.

However, what really got to me was that they used men either exclusively or in vastly disproportionate numbers to study breast cancer. An unfortunate side effect of that was overdiagnosing men with breast cancer.

And after that bit got publicized, the USG allocated breast cancer research money to the Russian space program. " How did it get away with that?" You might well ask. Why, to study the relationship of weightlessness to breast cancer, of course.

Kind of silly to call it feminist biology, though. It's just good science not to eliminate over 50% of the population, as though their lives and health are irrelevant. The former practice was not only unscientific but heinous. Striving to make it right is not feminism, ffs.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ismnotwasm (Original post)

Mon May 19, 2014, 01:13 AM

5. Umm, That sounds like a reason why they SHOULD test females.

 

Someone correct me here if I'm wrong. Last I heard, females made up roughly 50-51 percent of our species. So acknowledging something as significant as hormonal cycles in half our population seems pretty logical to me. Unless you are an old white guy doctor with a research grant and an agenda.

Correct me if I'm wrong here. Don't most mature women, before menopause, go through monthly cycles that affect them physiologically? Then they go through menopause that changes them for the rest of their lives?

If you are scientist honestly doing studies you will ensure your population, control group and study group are reflective of the real environment.

ON EDIT:

No wonder we are now finding that standard dosages of medicines for men and women have different effects. Sometimes to quite the detriment of women.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to dballance (Reply #5)

Mon May 19, 2014, 01:23 AM

6. There was one Harvard study, a long time ago, that concluded that males have cycles, too.

They don't bleed obviously, but they had other emotional and physiological changes periodically. IIRC what I read on that subject, the cycle was around every 40 days.

Then again, I don't believe every isolated study, either.

And, of course, the most obvious symptom of the male version of menopause was impotence, which also changed men for the rest of their lives.

But yes, as my reply #3 said, that was ample reason to test drugs on over 50% of the population before declaring them effective for 100% of the population

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to merrily (Reply #6)

Mon May 19, 2014, 02:10 PM

14. Yep, all the ED and Low-T ads on TV and the web point to a "male menopause."

 

But you sure won't hear them advertising it that way. That would challenge the masculinity of so many old, white codgers in power in government and media. BTW, I'm quickly becoming an old, male, white codger myself. However, I have the fortune to be somewhat enlightened and DU is certainly one of the reasons why.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to dballance (Reply #5)

Mon May 19, 2014, 02:18 AM

9. A lot of the fear is probably cause scientists fear the cycles contributing to noise

And if there is added noise, the data can get a lot uglier and obscure the treatment effect in the study group, requiring additional testing which costs additional resources. If there is no reason to believe that the mechanism works different in males than in females, males generally make for better test subjects.

Some kind of balance has to be reached between testing efficiency and making sure that physiological differences in females aren't overlooked. I do think that females should be given equal attention (obviously) but there do exist circumstances where testing on males actually is more efficient in finding cures that can help out females. This isn't a completely black and white issue.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to anti partisan (Reply #9)

Mon May 19, 2014, 03:48 AM

11. You'd think they'd want to know about that, too

so that treatments could be designed around such cycles. However, I guess our hormones aren't quite as raging as men have claimed. While women do react differently to some medications, they generally don't react differently at different points in their cycles.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Warpy (Reply #11)

Mon May 19, 2014, 02:15 PM

15. On the Plus Side. I know I've recently seen more articles on this subject online.

 

I'd have to to Google for them and I'm too lazy right now. I know, though, I've seen more articles pointing out how drugs need to be researched and made with the sex of the person in mind. Also, as we become an obese nation, the one-size fits all mentality doesn't hold up in that area either. The same dosage of a med is probably not the right thing for a person at 150lbs as for a person at 300lbs. I know in hospitals this is considered when it comes to many meds and anesthesia.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to dballance (Reply #15)

Mon May 19, 2014, 03:41 PM

16. Dosages are funny. I've seen 80 pound birdie ladies who needed massive doses of morphine

and absolutely huge men and women need only a wimpy 2 mg.

However, drugs that sit in fat that acts as a reservoir need to be titrated carefully.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to dballance (Reply #5)

Mon May 19, 2014, 08:40 AM

13. Women fall under the 'from Venus' category.

Or something.

The whole thing is bloody ridiculous. Basing biological studies on the male of the species

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ismnotwasm (Original post)

Mon May 19, 2014, 01:48 AM

7. Christina Hoff Sommers is a well established asshole. Ignore her.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Gravitycollapse (Reply #7)

Mon May 19, 2014, 08:37 AM

12. Oh I do

I found it hilarious they sited her as 'criticism'

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ismnotwasm (Original post)

Mon May 19, 2014, 01:49 AM

8. fem groups have been talking about this for decades

sigh

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ismnotwasm (Original post)

Mon May 19, 2014, 03:46 AM

10. I remember a researcher reacting in sheer horror when I suggested that he needed to include women

and analyze his results along sex lines as well as the overall results. He practically shrieked "What if she's pregnant?" as though no study could be designed with women who had no intention of becoming pregnant during the study.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread