Twenty Georgetown School of Medicine medical students, clinicians, and faculty gathered for an interactive iGIANT® (impact of Gender/Sex on Innovation and Novel Technologies) roundtable at Georgetown SoM on March 7, 2019 in the Warwick Evans Conference Room.
Jennifer Purks, Georgetown SoM, class of 2021 and iGIANT Scholar in-Residence, welcomed the participants to the roundtable. iGIANT founder and Georgetown adjunct faculty member, Dr. Saralyn Mark, launched the event by sharing her motivation and vision to develop iGIANT, a nonprofit, while working as a Senior Policy Advisor for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in 2014-15. Dr. Mark went on to facilitate an engaging discussion for attendees to peer through a gender/sex lens- envisioning innovative solutions to improve personal safety and quality of life for everyone.
Attendees shared experiences where gender/sex innovation is needed. Some examples included the fit of clothing such as difficulty finding functional and comfortable professional women’s shoes, white coats and scrubs since most are too big, and when rolled to fit, pose a safety issue for health professionals and patients. EMT uniforms, which are too big and heavy for the female frame, impede the ability to move or run. All these design elements negatively impacted women. They were unable do their jobs safely and well. It was discussed that finding a solution was often cited as too expensive so it was dismissed.
Education gaps included how Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) diagnosis presents differently in men and women: however, medical education does not cover how ADD presents in women and should be added into the curriculum just as students learn how heart attacks present differently in male and female patients. A sex/gender approach should be applied to research on issues surrounding burn out and sleep for medical students and trainees. Resources that medical students use have pervasive bias. For example, UWORLD is not inclusive in how questions are asked. Lastly, there is three times the number of publications and med research articles on erectile dysfunction compared to polycystic ovarian syndrome, which is further compounded by variations in how women describe pain.
Dean Cheng, the Senior Dean of Georgetown School of Medicine Office of Diversity and Inclusion, shared how she has recently been researching transgender healthcare and postulated that Spanks may be harnessed for shape shifting in transgender patients. This may allow a more cost effective and possibly improved quality of life compared to binding and all the negative, harmful injuries that may result from that practice.
Dr. Mark commented that these micro-inequalities may be low cost to address and fix and leaders can be advocates for this change. These micro-inequalities illustrate the difference between benign neglect and malignant intention. Furthermore, Dr. Mark astutely advocated that to make the most progress one must engage the dominant group (group who holds authority/power) in discussion to achieve desired outcomes collaboratively whether it comes to salary compensation, career development or promotion including among health professionals.
At the end of the roundtable, attendees provided their "Call-to-Action". A few examples include: 1) Implementing engaging designs for safe, effective scrubs for both women and men so there is more than just unisex S, M, L, XL, and XXL; 2) Invite men into the discussion on gender equity in the profession, 3) Ask for Psychiatry lectures to add a slides on the impact of sex/gender on ADD presentation; 4) Collaborate with an existing investigation on "burn out" at Georgetown to ensure that a sex/gender lens is applied.