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Invisible Women: where have I seen that before? 🤔

Invisible Women
Invisible Women: where have I seen that before? 🤔
By Caroline Criado Perez • Issue #94 • View online

Hellooooo GFPs! And thank you for all your lovely emails and advice to take it easy after Covid. I am constitutionally incapable of following said advice, but I have tried to tone it down a bit. Also this week I am on holiday so I’m taking it easy there. Sort of. But in any case, you won’t be getting a newsletter next Monday – you can’t get mad, you told me to take it easy!
In other news, this reaction from the lead author of last week’s gender data gap made my week:
Emily Parker
As Emily Parker, I can confirm laughing ~5 mins at this description:
"Some research is now being done, thanks to a female medical student called Emily Parker who noticed the 20 year gap between early relaxin-musculoskeletal studies and literally anything else happening..."
We live to serve, Ms Parker – and, thank YOU in turn for your service 💪
Gender data gap of the week
Asthma is a female-dominated condition: there are over 262 million people globally who have asthma — and 136 million of them are female.
As well as being more likely to have asthma in the first place, women suffer with more severe symptoms. They also experience “a significantly higher higher numbers of asthma attacks,” from which they are more likely than men to be hospitalised – and to die.
In fact women with asthma are twice as likely as men with asthma to die from an asthma attack. That’s according to a report by the UK’s leading asthma charity Asthma + Lung UK, baldly called “Asthma is worse for women,” which is calling for sex differences in asthma incidence and outcomes to be investigated. Apparently, despite these marked sex disparities, no one really seems to have thought this worth looking into.
One of the most interesting (to me) findings of the report is the strong impact of female hormone fluctuations on women with asthma, as indicated by symptom variations correlated with the menstrual cycle, with pregnancy, with menopause, and with hormonal birth control and HRT.
I find this interesting because it makes me think of my favourite* excuse researchers give for why they sadly *this hurts me more than it hurts you face 😢* must exclude messy women from their nice neat studies: “the menstrual cycle will interfere with the results!!!!11!”
According to the report, 20-25% of women with asthma have premenstrual asthma – and 68% of these women have previously been hospitalised. This, of course, hasn’t stopped (male) doctors dismissing women who have noticed a pattern:
what a pr1ck
what a pr1ck
Hmmm…medical professionals dismissing women who notice a pattern between symptoms and their menstrual cycle. Where have I seen that before?
For women with perimenstrual asthma, oral contraception has been found to reduce symptoms and improve pulmonary function – which I also find interesting, because when we DO manage to convince researchers to include women in research it’s usually on pain of death agreeing to take hormonal birth control.
So…how on earth are we suppose to know what impact hormonal birth control may or may not have if we almost exclusively study women who are on it and act like it’s a totally neutral state of being rather than a hormonal intervention that may or may not interact with whatever drug happens to be being tested at the time?
Don't mind me, just quietly fuming over here.
Don't mind me, just quietly fuming over here.
30% of women also report that their asthma gets worse during pregnancy – while a quarter report that it gets better. This seems to correlate with how severe the asthma is: mild asthma seems more likely to improve during pregnancy while “more severe forms of the disease frequently worsen.”
There are other sex differences in how asthma presents in women, for example the obesity-asthma association is also stronger among women than men. In fact, the report explains
There are multiple mechanisms through which sex differences in asthma may occur, yet they’re poorly understood.
And again…
The report calls for large-scale funding to investigat these differences, and calls, brace yourselves, GFPs, for “all major asthma research groups […] to re-analyse their datasets by sex”
it GFPs
it GFPs
Findings from recent studies have suggested that increasing our understanding of how sex hormones are able to regulate asthma may lead to the identification of pathways to be targeted by new therapeutic drugs.
The ‘one size fits all’ approach to asthma diagnosis, management and treatment simply does not work for women with asthma. Instead, by understanding the role of sex hormones in asthma, there is the opportunity to have a transformative impact for 136 million women around the world.
*by favourite I mean:
Default male of the week
Dr Sally Le Page
Last month, @WildlifeMag had a great article on the lack of female wildlife photographers.

This month, an article on the best kit for wildlife photographers includes only men's clothing, with no female equivalents. 🤦🏽
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Product of the week
GFP Suzy writes in relation to last week’s gender data gap of the week (RELAX-in), to recommend Jennis a tracking app that aligns your workouts to your cycle:
I myself am not a performance athlete, but a few of my very fit and active friends are trying it out and have positive things to say about it.
Would love to hear from GFPs who’ve tried it out!
Poppy pic of the week
Poppy being SUPER helpful while I'm trying to write...
Poppy being SUPER helpful while I'm trying to write...
That’s it! Until next time, my dear GFPs….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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