Diabetes is one of those equal-opportunity diseases. It affects a wide cross-section of the population, with little regard to age, race, gender, or national origin.
While there are some tendencies toward higher risk in some groups, there is little doubt that diabetes can and does impact virtually anyone at any stage of life, and it is a lifelong affliction that can only be treated and not cured.
However, men and women do tend to handle diabetes differently, especially with the differences in hormones and the child-bearing ability of the women – which makes diabetes especially tricky for any babies that are or may be present when the woman contracts the disease.
These feminine complications are important for the health of the mother and the baby; so why is there a gender bias in diabetes health?
As much as there is a push for women and girls to get into STEM fields in academia and careers, there should also be a push for more women to get involved in diabetic medicine to serve as advocates and teachers for women with diabetes, to help them deal with the disease in a more specialized way that benefits the different female body and health needs.
There is a new push for more female representation in diabetes health, as the “gender bias” was noted by a report from the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, and based on a presentation made by Dr. Elizabeth Seaquist at a recent Scientific Sessions conference. The presentation referred to gender bias in the clinical sciences (such as medicine) and noted a trend in sexual harassment cases and hostile environments for women in certain specialty areas, including diabetes care.
As the #MeToo movement continues to highlight victims and perpetrators in Hollywood and politics, the wave of activism and signs of courage are now being encouraged in other areas where men seem to dominate. Women are being encouraged outside of Hollywood and Washington, D.C., to speak up and speak out and help cleanse some vital scientific environments of their gender hostility and create more diverse environments that are amendable to collaboration, cooperation and new perspectives and experiences that may enhance the clinical work that is done in all areas of medicine and science.
Having safer environments for women in diabetes health care can provide valuable information and insights for those who suffer with diabetes and can help them gain even more control over their lives regardless of gender.
Diabetes is an equal-opportunity disease. Patients deserve equal opportunity for the right treatment.