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The world is tailored to the man

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From the dosage of medication to vehicle safety to the size of the smartphone – what affects everyone’s life is often only tailored to half the population. The “gender data gap” is to blame, explains Sonja Sperber from the Institute for Strategy, Technology and Organization at the Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU) in an interview with the APA. Test subjects in the development of everyday products are rarely women.

In studies in the past, “the majority of data, sometimes exclusively, was collected from male subjects,” explained Sperber, who, together with other researchers, drew attention to the problem in an article in the “European Management Journal”.

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“Data on women have either not been collected or they have been collected on such a small scale that the data are unusable.” It is a historical problem that has become entrenched. The economist believes that the consequences of the resulting data gap should not be underestimated.

While men, unlike women, can operate standard mobile phones with one hand, the data gap also has more serious consequences: crash test dummies used to simulate car accidents are modeled on male bodies; Tests with female-like dolls not mandatory. So you can not read to what extent a woman’s body would suffer injuries in an emergency.

Women’s bodies are “more complex”

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Drugs would also be tested mainly on men. Because: “The female body is more complex than the male,” Sperber alludes to, among other things, the menstrual cycle. “But such factors must be taken into account when women are supposed to take the medication.” If drugs are only tested on men, the recommended dose for the smaller, lighter women on average could be wrong.

However, the gender data gap also affects medicine in other ways: If students are only taught using male anatomy, this has an impact on the treatment of women. For example, heart attacks manifest themselves with different symptoms than men. A Canadian study recently showed that women who are operated on by male surgeons have a 32 percent higher risk of dying, suffering complications or being hospitalized again than when they are operated on by female surgeons – in whom such differences are not observed were – to be operated on. Nevertheless, Sperber stated that the awareness of the problem has not really arrived in science.

For a special edition of the “European Management Journal”, the researchers are currently calling for the submission of studies that deal with the gender data gap in management in order to generate more attention for the topic. Here, too, the sparse data situation has consequences: Studies that analyze the reasons why there are more men than women in management positions are mainly carried out with men. “You can’t understand women and their problems like that,” the scientist stated.

So there is no such thing as neutral data. Sperber and her colleagues are therefore calling for more attention to the topic and its consequences and for a change in data collection procedures.

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