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Invisible Women - No One Has Ever Mentioned This Before

Invisible Women
Invisible Women - No One Has Ever Mentioned This Before
By Caroline Criado Perez • Issue #18 • View online
Hello my lovely GFPs. Let me begin with a huge thank you to the many of you who emailed me after my last slightly downbeat missive. Your messages meant so much to me. I’m sorry I can’t reply to them all, but I do read them all and they really lifted me up. I can confirm that I am feeling less down in the dumps this week, although of course still fairly despondent because, let’s face it, everything’s a bit shit isn’t it? Read on to find out quite how shit it is!

Default Male of the Week
So you made it past the doom and gloom opener – congratulations! Here is your reward:
rose 🦇
I went to the pub the other day (it was empty and I sat outside) and got a free drink from the bartender and… he’s just messaged me on facebook
Yes, GFPs, in news that will surprise precisely no-one, the UK government has introduced a track and trace mechanism that has taken zero account of gender (or, apparently, GDPR, although I am less of an expert in that than I am in douchey behaviour by creepy men).
I mean, to be fair, this was completely unprecedented and had never happened anywhere before.
Woman stalked by sandwich server via her COVID-19 contact tracing info – Naked Security
Nope, no way anyone could have known. And definitely it has nothing to do with how male dominated every single cabinet committee is.
Caroline Criado Perez
It’s a mystery why this govt’s economic strategy keeps forgetting about women 🤔
Gender Data Gap of the Week
More just in from the department of the completely unprecedented. It turns out that “AI systems are worse at diagnosing disease when training data is skewed by sex
Yes, friends, it turns out that, although “the artificial intelligence model showed great promise in predicting which patients treated in U.S. Veterans Affairs hospitals would experience a sudden decline in kidney function,” there was a downside to women representing “only about 6% of the patients whose data were used to train the algorithm”. The algorithm, now you’re going to want to sit down for this: performed worse when tested on women.
The shortcomings of that high-profile algorithm, built by the Google sister company DeepMind, highlight a problem that machine learning researchers working in medicine are increasingly worried about. And it’s an issue that may be more pervasive — and more insidious — than experts previously realized, new research suggests.
The study, led by researchers in Argentina and published Monday in the journal PNAS, found that when female patients were excluded from or significantly underrepresented in the training data used to develop a machine learning model, the algorithm performed worse in diagnosing them when tested across across a wide range of medical conditions affecting the chest area. The same pattern was seen when men were left out or underrepresented.
I KNOW RIGHT?! WHO KNEW?! Certainly not us.
Issue 1 of the IW newsletter!
Issue 1 of the IW newsletter!
As I say, no one has ever mentioned this before.
PPE of the Week
GFPs, I have good news and bad news to share with you this week. First comes the excellent news via the Welsh Labour Health Minister, in response to a request from Leanne Wood of Plaid Cymru for sex-specific PPE to be sourced, that “the industry considers that it is not necessary to produce gender specific PPE due to the range of sizes available.” Oh well if the industry says so obviously that’s fine then.
Just a few little notes.
First, the statistically significant results from a survey run by Loughborough University on PPE fit:
Sue Hignett
Thanks for sharing the PPE survey. Here are the results - published & statistically significant.
COVID PPE does NOT fit women as well as men; women have more injury risks and it's harder to do the same job.
Next up, this study, published in the journal Anaesthesia, which found that female medics who have intubated covid patients are at higher risk than male medics of going on to contract covid themselves. Now, although this is not proven to be causal, if it is, this really matters. We know that the severity of a covid case is affected by the viral load to which the infected person is exposed to at the time of infection. And given intubation generates aerosolised particles, it is a particularly risky procedure from that perspective. So if you’re doing it, you really want to be sure that your mask fits your face. Could ill-fitting PPE be the reason behind this sex-discrepancy? The authors of this study are a bit 🤷‍♀️ on that point, but the question was taken up by some other researchers in the next issue of Anaesthesia:
Female sex was identified in the study by El‐Boghdadly et al. as an independent factor for proven or suspected COVID‐19 infection of healthcare workers following intubation [1]. As one of the significant findings outlined in the paper, it was surprising to us that this was not given more prominence in the discussion or the infographic associated with the article.
El‐Boghdadly et al. propose that ‘biological differences’ may be a factor in this disparity, without elaborating further. We postulate that one biologically relevant difference could be body habitus and the gendered design of personal protective equipment (PPE). Personal protective equipment has been noted in other sectors, such as mining and engineering, to be designed for the male body shape [3]. It stands to reason that this may also be the case in the health sector, and studies by the Royal College of Nursing and ergonomists are underway to investigate.
Well, yes.
The COVID‐19 outbreak has brought these issues to the attention of the UK media, where anecdotes of sex disparity in the appropriate fit of PPE have been proffered from various NHS sources [45]. Stories abound within healthcare about ‘unisex’ (for which read: inadequately sized) PPE – gowns so large that they drag on the floor and trip up the wearer, gloves that are not available in small enough sizes, visors that are dislodged by breasts when the intubator looks down, and ill‐fitting facemasks and goggles that fail to seal when applied to smaller female faces. Such PPE, whereas not being fit for purpose when worn, may also prove more difficult (and therefore more dangerous) to doff.
Women comprise over three‐quarters of healthcare workers in the UK and many other countries. Failure to adequately protect a large sector of the workforce is ethically unsound, a health and safety issue, and a looming potential class action lawsuit. Urgent research is needed to ascertain the extent of the problem, and immediate action is required to ensure sex equity in PPE provision.
Obviously by this point I am whooping and cheering. Still though, “the industry” has said there is no problem so probably it’s fine.
PPE Coda
mango med
i’ve been told my scrubs that fit FINE were too tight and was asked not to wear them to work again. JUST because they are tight around my boobs and ass. yeah, that happens when they’re big. my body isn’t inherently unprofessional because of my shape, no woman’s is.
Apparently some types of PPE fit are more important than others.
Research of the Week
Faithful GFPs may remember that a couple of newsletters ago I was whining about my menstrual cycle being completely out of whack during lockdown. And I was also complaining about the lack of research into the problem. Well, now there is some and you (if you are UK-based) can help!
Caroline Criado Perez
Are YOU pissed off about the lack of research into women's bodies? You can help! @GynaeGeek is researching the impact of the pandemic on the menstrual cycle and needs your responses -- including if you didn't experience any changes. Survey here:
Get reporting, GFPs! Don’t let me down! (obviously GFPs who don’t have periods are excused)
Watch of the Week
Caroline Criado Perez
Oh my god this woman is magnificent. This is her “I’m sorry WHAT?” face at the announcement of that no facial treatments are allowed - EXCEPT FOR BEARD TRIMMING
This GLORIOUS video of Caroline Hirons, who I have since discovered is very famous, laying into our incomprehensible government who somehow came to the VERY SCIENTIFIC that threading eyebrows is not ok, but trimming beards is 🧐.
Poppy Pic of the Week
It has come to my attention that I FORGOT to do Poppy pic of the week last week. I am SO SORRY! I was, as previously mentioned, feeling super shit. anyway, to make up for it here is a whole SERIES of pictures of her in her very dignified post-surgery ruff (she’s fine, she just had to have a growth removed and it’s been analysed and is benign yay!)
And for those of you who inexplicably haven’t been watching What We Do in the Shadows and therefore haven’t got a fucking clue what I’m talking about:
What We Do in the Shadows "Pillage" Teaser
What We Do in the Shadows "Pillage" Teaser
That’s it, GFPs! Till next time xoxoxo
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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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