the feminist critique of science

Drmarts drmarts at
Tue Sep 12 09:25:24 EST 1995

In message <wardp-1109951514250001 at>, wardp at
(Pearse Ward) writes:

>>>If I included only men in the study, it would be wrong (biased) to
extrapolate the result to the population at large (women, children). My
results would only apply to the population studied.

If I then included women in the study, my results could be more widely
applied (even if you sorted the results by sex to account for differences
in biology or lifestyle).<<<
>>>The studies referred to as
being all male were mostly studies done in lab. animals (inbred strains of
mice). Selecting one sex was simply one more method for removing
confounding variables, and male mice happen to be less valuable.  Most
studies done in humans choose sample populations suitable to the study.<<<

What you seem to have a hard time believing is that many important
clinical trilas did exclude women (the most well known example being the
aspirin and heart disease prevention trial, which was done on a group of
male physicians), and even though the results should not have been
extrapolated to women and children, they often were and still are. I'm
particularly  of clinical trials of new drugs. The reasoning? Women have
menstrual cycles, and the cyclical hormonal changes would be a
"confounding variable." Of course, menstruating women would be taking the
drug/using the treatment, but that never seemed a good enough reason for
including them. (BTW, children are used in clinical trials for drug
approvals due to ethical concerns re: informed consent) I tend to agree
with Muriel that the regulations forcing inclusion of women in clinical
trials did represent a new way of thinking about how such trials should be
done, and how the results should be interepreted. I served on an
Institutional Review Board (reviews protocols involving human subjects) at
the time the new regulations were being proposed, and you would have been
amazed at the objections that were raised by researchers who wanted to
keep clinical trials male-only. At times I was beginning to think that if
they could have figured out a way to do clinical trials for breast or
uterine or cervical cancer on men they would have done it!


Sherry Marts
American Health Assistance Foundation

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