Did you know that for women with epilepsy the concentration of their medication drops during the lutealphase of their menstrualcycle? Women can have breakthrough seizures as a result. But instead of tailoring the dosage of their medication so that the concentration varies in function of the menstrual cycle, doctors either increase the dosage across the board or they tell women they can’t drive and have to have follow-up appointments with neurologists.

This stems from the fact that clinical trials were conducted on men between the ages of 20 and 40 with stable testosterone levels. Researchers wanted to find out what was really going on. They thought fluctuating estrogen levels would be too complicated to take into account. So they did find out what was really going on. They found out what was really going on in men between 20 and 40 years old and white.

This research and design bias was found to extend to smartphone-based conversational agents, with Siri in fact. Researchers found that when they said, “Hey Siri I have a headache – I’m having chest pain. What should I do?” Siri had established recommendations. Siri knew to direct them to the nearest hospital. But when users said things such as : “I’m depressed.” “I was raped.” “I was assaulted.” It had no context, no established recommendations for guidance.

To watch the full Keynote by Dr. Alyson McGregor on how male-centric medicine endangers women’s lives: 

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