In science as is life, diversity will be our strength
Dawn Barry, President & Co-founder, LunaPBC
STEM is the popular shorthand for education and occupations in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. While career opportunities in STEM are expanding and fueling advances in the economies of the world, the number of women in these careers is measurably lower than men, resulting in a large gender gap. Lack of female role models, sexism in our educational system, and discrimination in the workplace are all being studied as possible explanations.
Make no mistake – this issue in STEM is much bigger than one of fairness, and the stakes at play for human advancement are large.
Scientific research and discovery itself has a diversity problem. Many groups are underrepresented in research datasets; the large skew towards data on white males equates to women and also non-European-descended people, people with disabilities, and socially disadvantaged populations being grossly absent in the data sets used for health research.
Failing to study women has dire consequences. For example, women are at the epicenter of Alzheimer’s Disease; two thirds of Americans living with Alzheimer’s are woman and women make up the majority of their caregivers. Women are underrepresented in cardiovascular research because they often have different symptoms than men. There is also concern that therapeutic areas that pertain only to women, such reproductive health, cervical cancer, and endometriosis, are being undervalued and underfunded.
At LunaDNA, we are pioneering person-first discovery and, in doing so, promoting people from subjects of research to partners in finding the next health solution. One of our core reasons for being is in making discovery more representative, recognizing that women (and their underrepresented brethren) are biologically different from men.
#EachforEqual for me means we all come together to explore where our health profiles align and where they contrast. And in the contrast may lie the answer to our health differences. In science as is life, diversity will be our strength.