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Invisible Women - finally! a medical device for ladies!

Invisible Women
Invisible Women - finally! a medical device for ladies!
By Caroline Criado Perez • Issue #55 • View online
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My dear GFPs, hello! And welcome once again to your default female oasis in a default male world. Hooray!
Quick heads up before we get going that I will be taking the next two weeks off writing this newsletter as I am finally making the AB an honest man…in FIVE DAYS 😱
Don’t worry I’m sure all the researchers and companies will behave while we’re away….and in the meantime I’m giving you a BUMPER EDITION to keep you going.
ALSO IN THE MEANTIME, I have a favour to ask. I want to know more about who you all are! I know there are GFPs from all over the world, but I don’t know how many and exactly which countries. So far I’ve counted (from emails I’ve received) GFPs in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Ireland, the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Japan, Korea, Sweden, Brazil, even at least one in Finland! I know we have a few male GFPs knocking about, but how many of you are there REALLY. How old are you all?! I have received emails from GFPs in their teens and their 80s! So I know we are a wide and varied bunch but I’d like to know MORE. I mean, I am the data lady after all.
And so, drum-roll please, I have created A SURVEY! Our very own GFP SURVEY!
This is mainly for newsletter planning purposes, for example, countries I might focus on depending on how many GFPs are located there. It’s also to help me plan the members area and how I want to structure and segment that. I’m going to be asking for demographic info, but I also will be asking some more open-ended questions. You don’t have to answer all the questions if you don’t want, or if some don’t feel applicable to you. Just whatever you want to share.
And for full transparency, as you know I’m trying to figure out ways to make the work that goes into this newsletter financially sustainable. Part of that is of course the membership scheme and THANK YOU SO MUCH to everyone who has signed up so far (if you haven’t got around to it yet, now is a very good time!)
However I am also exploring potential sponsorship ideas, obviously only with companies who actually design things that a) women want/need, b) work for women, and c) use actual data collected on actual women, and as we know that list is not exactly extensive so so we’ll see how that goes….(although if you do work for such a company, hit reply, we should work together!)
But in any case, for those purposes it would be really useful to have some demographic data so potential sponsors know where my readers come from. This would be shared ENTIRELY anonymously (and in fact I have made the survey itself entirely anonymous so even I won’t know who you are or have your IP or anything) and would be restricted to demographic data, (so age, location, sex/gender*); the other questions I may ask, like if you’ve read Invisible Women, or if you have any kids, are purely for my planning purposes and won’t be shared with sponsors. And, of course, the survey is completely optional. But I would be very grateful if as many of you as possible filled it out.
Thank you all very much in advance! I’m really excited to get to know more about you all 😍✊
Just in case you missed the previous links, the survey can be found here:
GFP Survey
Ok now let’s take a look at what the scientists have been up to this week….
Gender data gap of the week
GFPs, AMAZING NEWS. Contrary to what we’ve been told by *checks notes* oh yes EVERYONE FOREVER, it turns out that women’s bodies are actually not too complicated and atypical to include in research and as a result we finally have a medical device designed for women!
This is HUGE, because as GFPs will remember from Invisible Women,
…only 14% of post-approval medical-device studies included sex as a key outcome measure and only 4% included a subgroup analysis for female participants […] reviews of FDA-mandated medical product trials found that women made up only 18% of participants in trials for endovascular occlusion devices (used if your foetal blood vessel hasn’t closed of its own accord) and 32% of participants in studies on coronary stents (which, incidentally, are another device where women have worse outcomes than men)
This failure to include women or sex analyse the data is of course largely because they don’t have to, highlighting yet again the need for regulation in this space. And of course this failure results in women being disproportionately harmed by the medical devices that are supposed to be helping them.
So naturally I was delighted to read about a new medical device tested exclusively in women! Yeah, TAKE THAT MEN. (I jest, of course, I do not want men to suffer as women have historically suffered. ok maybe a little bit. JUST KIDDING god you’re so touchy get a sense of humour etc etc etc)
ANYWAY. So as I said. Delighted! Overjoyed! Pure Bliss! And what is this magical medical device, you ask? Are we finally going to have an artificial heart that will fit in women’s bodies, only about a decade after the one for men landed? How about a hip replacement that doesn’t tear up our hips? Hmmm ok what about something to address vaginal prolapse that doesn’t stop us from walking? No? Really? I mean I’m running out of…
Magnetic weight loss device that locks jaw almost shut created to 'fight global obesity epidemic' | World News | Sky News
…ah. I mean, of course, silly us. OF COURSE the time they manage to include women in a study is when it’s one that’s about making us more f**kable 🤪
Actually this isn’t surprising at all. People often ask me if there is any area of research where there is a gender data gap in favour of WOMEN, and I say, sure! Cosmetic treatments! When it comes to squeezing, stretching, pinning, cutting women’s bodies into remaining f**kable at all times, suddenly all the old canards – about how impossible women are to recruit, and how our niche menstrual cycle will interfere with the results rendering them unreadable for standard humans – go out the window.
As I reported in Invisible Women, “women represented 90% and 92% of participants in facial wrinkle correction trials and dental device trials, respectively.” Apparently we’re only too complicated when it comes to research that might save our lives.
Default male of the week
And continuing with the same theme of medical devices that don’t account for the bodies of half the world…
British Journal of Anaesthesia
The outer diameter of many devices currently marketed for cricothyroidotomy is generally oversized for adult airway anatomy, particularly for females
@BJAJournals @Moserber @AirwayInfo @AirwayHub @AirwayMxAcademy @dasairway
Well that’s just great isn’t it. I wonder if it’s because they didn’t bother to test them in any of us first….🧐
thank you ms kardashian
thank you ms kardashian
Product of the Week
It all started when I was sent this tweet…
Arghavan Salles, MD, PhD
2021, the year when it’s easier for a woman to find a garden tool that fits her hands than it is to find the same in a surgical instrument.
And yes, granted, the surgical instrument thing is a worry*, BUT WHAT IS THAT PRUNER AND WHERE CAN I GET MY WOMAN HANDS ON ONE??? 😍😍😍
So I did a bit of research and found them online. GFPs, they do a WHOLE RANGE of Women’s Pro tools and this is what they have to say about it:
We developed our Woman’s Pro™ line of tools in response to feedback from many of our customers. Many of the professional quality tools on the market were not designed with a woman user in mind.
I started clicking around the website, for example onto the “woman’s pro by-pass pruner” for which the description begins “Finally a professional pruner designed for a woman’s hand”
OK, but before we get too carried away, let’s find out exactly what that means. It was time to put in a call to Michael Landis, the founder of the Wildflower Seed & Tool company – and omg IS HE EVER A GFP 😍
The company started off selling wildflower seeds through garden shows throughout the US and they noticed something about their customers: they were mainly women. That was the first radical thing they did – and yes it is radical. For example, the majority of iphone users are women but do you notice apple doing anything about that? No you don’t, my GFPs, no you don’t.
Which leads me onto the SECOND radical thing they did: listening to women. Women were telling them that they found standard gardening tools hard to use. They were too big. They were too heavy. And so the Wildflower Seed & Tool company set about designing some tools specifically for women.
Take their bypass pruner: the handles are made of aluminium, so it’s light, and the handles don’t open as wide as many “standard” pruners, to account for women’s on average smaller hands. BUT, this doesn’t mean it’s less powerful. In fact, it’s MORE powerful than a standard bypass pruner – which given women’s lower grip strength is more, not less, needed in tools for women.
From Invisible Women:
Women also have on average a 41% lower grip strength than men, and this is not a sex difference that changes with age: the typical seventy-year-old man has a stronger handgrip than the average twenty-five-year-old woman. It’s also not a sex difference that can be significantly trained away: a study which compared ‘highly trained female athletes’ to men who were ‘untrained or not specifically trained’ found that their grip strength ‘rarely’ surpassed the fiftieth percentile of male subjects. Overall, 90% of the women (this time including untrained women) in the study had a weaker grip than 95% of their male counterparts. (IW, pp.145-6)
Michael explains that the handle has a slope on it. This means that it will sit in your palm, which in turn means that you will be using all of your palm strength instead of just the bit of your palm at the bottom of your thumb. More palm = more power. And then there’s the blades, which are slightly offset: this increases the cutting power by 35%.
There are other design features too, such as a one-handed open/close, but in essence what they’ve done is created a smaller, more lightweight tool that is nevertheless more powerful and therefore isn’t relying on you having male levels of grip strength.
OK, OK, CCP, you say, not unreasonably, but have you actually tried them?
Yes I have! I have tried the bypass pruner and this ratchet pruner, and in fact even ran an experiment comparing them with the pruner I currently have and I can confirm that they cut through stems and branches MUCH easier, with barely any effort. In short, yes I know I’m starting to sound like a one-woman marketing campaign for this company, but omg I love them!
FUN ADDENDUM. One thing Michael said, really struck me, which was that they found that once they made these tools it wasn’t just women buying them: men were buying them too. Because DUH why wouldn’t you want your life made easier for you?
It reminded me very much of a conversation I had with some women in mining in Australia. As you can imagine, it’s a pretty male dominated industry and so a LOT of their tools are very much designed around men, including the shoulder bags they had to use to carry around 12kg of copper coils. These were “designed” and I use the term loosely, to rely on men’s upper body strength. But as I explain in Invisible Women, while men’s upper body strength is on average 50% higher than women’s, the average gap in lower body strength is about half that. And so the female miners, being as they were, engineers by trade, designed their own backpacks to spread the weight more evenly and make use of women’s higher hip strength. AND THEN THE MEN, who had originally said the shoulder bags were fine and real men blah blah blah, once they tried the new backpacks were suddenly like…oh. This actually is nicer isn’t it?
It’s like the OXO brand of household tools, originally designed for those with arthritis, but which actually everyone likes using because…they’re just nicer to use? And again: why wouldn’t you want your life made easier?
Well, if you’re a man, tbh, it turns out, because REAL MEN something something blah blah. This, btw, is basically the topic of Katrine Marçal’s excellent new book: how restrictive masculinity norms have historically hindered innovation because REAL MEN don’t need to not half kill themselves starting a car and REAL MEN don’t wheel their suitcases etc etc etc, when actually those things just make life easier for everyone and…well, DUH why would you want a needlessly difficult life??
Anyway those of you who read last week’s newsletter will know that I shared a code for you to get 30% off Katrine’s book at Waterstones. Several of you got in touch, however, to say that her book was out of stock at Waterstones! Eek! Anyway, I am delighted to announce that this is no longer a problem and the code is good till the end of July,
The link is here
And the code is: INVENTION
So go forth and buy my pretties! I’m off to get Michael onto this problem:
Professor Confessor Holycrap
@CCriadoPerez No, but reminds me - was trying to do some gardening & other half handed me a sawing tool which required a button holding down with thumb whilst pulling the trigger. I don't have small hands, but I couldn't do it. Fingers didn't reach. Ridiculous.
*not meaning to downplay the surgical instrument thing, I’ve hear this A LOT from female medics and as well as being bad for them you’d also think it’s bad for patients??? But also: PRUNER!!
it me, GFPs. except with pruners and i'm not clever enough to change gif text 😢
it me, GFPs. except with pruners and i'm not clever enough to change gif text 😢
CCP-ing of the week
I did some podcasts!
Here I am discussing gender with Prof Paul Dolan:
Is it better to be born a girl or a boy? - Duck - Rabbit | Acast
And here I am discussing medical sexism with Chelsea Clinton:
‎In Fact with Chelsea Clinton: Sexism and Public Health (with Congresswoman Lauren Underwood and Caroline Criado Perez) on Apple Podcasts
Homework of the Week
TWO bits of homework this week because you’re off the hook for TWO WHOLE WEEKS! (ok, 3 if you include the survey, don’t forget the survey! you will forgive me 😘)
OK, first up, remember last week I introduced you to Viki who was doing sterling work explaining to Toby Young of all people that there is a data gap concerning how common it is for someone who has regular periods to have an irregular period? And that she was setting up a trial to fill this gap but it was in ethics approval? Well, the trial has made it through ethics! And it’s ready for the GFP onslaught!
So just to reiterate: this is for GFPs who get periods and who haven’t yet had both doses of the vaccine. If you’ve already had both doses the trial you want to take part in is the one set up by Dr Clancy.
OK! Nice and simple. Next bit of homework coming up!
A while back I was sent an email telling me about Emma who, following on from terrible experiences with care for her endometriosis, is petitioning the New Zealand government to implement a standard for care for endometriosis.
In her words:
For a disease that is common as diabetes, we have no access to standard medical care for endometrosis. We turn up crippled in pain to hospitals and are accused of being drug seekers, doctors too lazy to read you giant medical files add more stress and all they do is give you prescriptions. Prescriptions for anti inflammatories and tramadol. We don’t need prescriptions we need access to gynaecologists.
We need help, we need an intervention, we need access to the healthcare the government says they provide. We need better access to WINZ (women are declined for endo when they can’t work due to the crippling pain, but accepted for mental health reasons instead because you are depressed about having a chronic pain condition that ruins your life, ain’t that a kick to the teeth), cheaper alternative medications that actually work over the pharmaceuticals. I want the government to speak the truth that you are letting us suffer, then people won’t think we are crazy.
You can read and sign her petition here:
Petition · Support the Gynaecological Crisis in New Zealand ·
Since writing that, this excellent article came out in The Guardian
A common treatment for endometriosis could actually be making things worse | Endometriosis | The Guardian
Which immediately made me think of Emma who writes heartbreakingly about her “abdomen wrecked from 7 surgeries”
My endometirosis grew back in a year after my last operation. What am I meant to do now? Slowly die inside while my insides glue themselves together? What is coming… a life of constant pain, pain the makes you buckle over I liken it to a hot poker being stabbed in you and up you, soon I wont be able to get up from seating position without pain, I wont be able to go to the toilet without crying, I wont be able to fully stand up soon and stretch.
Surprise surprise we’ve been treating endometriosis all wrong. Turns out that while we have one single blunt treatment for endo (cut you open and cut it out), there are in fact 3 distinct types of endometriosis and only for a minority of patients is surgery definitely the best option. From the article:
“Patients whose symptoms are caused primarily by neuropathic pain are less likely to benefit from surgery, and could even experience more pain following surgery,” Vincent says.
Horne agrees: “In neuropathic pain cases, repeated surgeries are very unlikely to be a good thing. And in these cases, we need to figure out whether surgery is helpful at all.”
The good news is that there are “several licensed treatments for nerve pain, often used successfully in patients who suffer from neuropathic pain,” and some doctors think these drugs could work much better than surgery for many endo patients.
BUT, of course, none of these drugs has been approved for use in endometriosis, BECAUSE, all together now, “the requisite research has not been conducted.”
And even if they were, tbh we’re useless at diagnosing the 3 different types, despite having known about them for “the last decade”, again, because we don’t fund the research into the disease (which by the way is as common as diabetes but then again men get that too so 🤪).
Right! I think we all deserve a nice….
...Poppy pic of the week!
poppy being outraged we aren't coming quickly enough to throw the ball (she doesn't "do" fetch)
poppy being outraged we aren't coming quickly enough to throw the ball (she doesn't "do" fetch)
oh go on, have another
poppy staring longingly at fish
poppy staring longingly at fish
Right! That’s it! For two whole weeks! ARGH! Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do while I’m gone! All my love, my lovely wonderful GFPs xoxoxox
PS: Oh, and just one more reminder about the SURVEY 😍and ANOTHER about becoming a member.
Thank you so much!! See you on the other side 😘✊
*just a quick note on the sex/gender questions. I’ve done my best to create a survey that is as inclusive as possible and won’t be uncomfortable for anyone, but obviously there is always room for improvement, so I welcome feedback on this point. And just to reiterate, the survey is entirely optional, so if the whole thing makes you feel uncomfortable feel free to ignore it ❤️
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Caroline Criado Perez

Keeping up with the gender data gap (and whatever else takes my fancy). Like the Kardashians, but with more feminist rage. Plus, toilet queue of the week.

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