Gender bias and any imbalances therein are infecting and affecting science at every level; from lab personnel makeup to tissue samples used in experiments.  This bias exists and is skewing research and threatening public health.

This was the warning this year, and it comes from the National Institute of Health.

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As an example of the gender bias in science, take this example:

traditionally, researcher avoid using female animals because of concerns that hormonal fluctuations and reproductive cycles can skew results.  That being said, women can respond differently to medications and develop some diseases differently from men.  In a commentary in the Journal Nature in May, Clayton co-written that researchers need to include female lab animals.

“Its a real blind spot that’s resulted in huge gaps in our knowedlge”

– Janine Clayton, Associate Director of Research, Women’s Health, National Institute of Health

Even a researcher’s own gender can compromise their research unwittingly, according to a study out of McGill University in Montreal published in April.  The study found that the presence of male researchers in the lab cause intense stress in rodents that altered how the animals reacted to pain.

“Males can be perceived as dangerous, and stress can muffle pain responses…This can affect a very large set of experiments.  What’s amazing is that this is 2014 and we didn’t know about this until now”

-Jeffrey Mogil, Lead Author and Pain Researcher, McGill University

There’s 99 more stories from 2014.  Check out the Best of 2014 series here

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