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Time to start studying females too urges scientist

Time to start studying females too, urges scientist

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  • Post last modified:31/05/2019
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WASHINGTON: US neurobiologist Rebecca Shansky recalled her first experiences studying mice in the lab two decades ago: the “default” was to study males.

“The primary excuses for not including females in your research was first that hormones just made everything so complicated that you were… going to have a difficult time if you tried to study the brain in females animals,” said Shansky, explaining the conventional wisdom at the time.

Shansky’s article published in the US journal Science Thursday denounces that practice as based on outdated gender stereotypes from the 19th century that are continuing to influence scientific research today.

In science, women were traditionally considered more complicated versions of men.

Researchers believed menstrual cycles and the biological changes that went along with them made women “hormonal, emotional, unstable” study subjects, Shansky — who is now at the neuroanatomy and behavior laboratory at Northeastern University in Boston — told journalists Tuesday.

For half a century, the proliferation of this myth caused scientists to focus their studies nearly exclusively on male mice, rats and primates, so that a male brain became considered the baseline for a human brain.