It seems that everywhere you look, the gender gap exists at some level. In the health sector, it exists at a serious, existential level. In the healthcare industry, the gap exists on many levels, and is just clearing out in recent years. The perspective, outlook, and study of women is important to the healthcare industry on many levels. From including the sale of health supplements and natural treatments from both male and female creators (like that of Mad Hippie, for example), to understanding how diseases and such affect both men and women, the healthcare industry faces gender ideals and gaps on multiple levels.
Specifically, clinical research over decades has been conducted largely or entirely on the biology of men, which has inevitably resulted in a skewed representation of medical data over both genders as the years have progressed. To begin with, it was not a known fact that the biology of males versus females was any different outside of the obvious genital differences, or that diseases affected the genders differently, and so it made no sense to test individuals of both genders. When it was realised, however, the gap began to close at a miniscule pace, and that gap still has a long way to go before the playing field evens out definitively.
There have been great strides in the field to smooth out the gender gap, and all strides are positive if nothing else, but the fact remains that historically, women’s health has been poorly researched, studied and documented. In fact, women’s health accounts for just 4% of industry funding (used for research and development towards healthcare products and services). This miniscule statistic is just one example of the gender inequality that has been carried out over the decades. Thankfully, valuable work is being carried out to attempt to understand female physiology better, but attention must be paid to the realisation that simply focusing on healthcare access is not enough. To improve health outcomes for women, we must actively work towards vital understanding. This includes (but is not limited to) biomedical research, laboratory science, clinical research, and population health studies – across both genders.
Since the early nineties, active movements have been made to begin to recognise the importance of including women in such important medical research, as well as playing close attention to the differences between the sexes during such studies. If both genders of the human body had the exact same biological make up and response to disease, the healthcare field would find it far easier to carry out research and study, but as we have learnt the hard way, they are fundamentally different. Now we must work to remedy the issue and bring gender equality to the sector – starting with the very foundations, the biological make-up.
Ultimately, the healthcare industry’s biggest issue regarding gender gaps lies in the lack of medical research that has specifically catered to the female body or perspective. Now that we understand that there are in fact key differences between the male and female bodies, we can work towards finding a healthy balance between scientific representation of the two genders. The end goal of this kind of dedication is to gain a solid understanding of not only the differences but the similarities, and how treatments and preventatives can work for both genders, not just males (as has been historically represented in medical and scientific research).