Multifactorial Aspects of Sex Bias in Surgical Research

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Neel Mansukhani, MD
Department of Surgery
Northwestern University and

Melina R. Kibbe, MD, FACS, FAHA
Colin G. Thomas Jr. Distinguished Professor and Chair
Department of Surgery
Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7050
Editor in Chief, JAMA Surgery 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: This study is a follow-up to our previous work that examined sex bias in surgical research. Previously, we examined sex bias in basic and translational science surgical research, as well as in clinical surgical research. We discovered previously that sex bias exists in basic and translational surgical research in the unequal inclusion of male and female research subjects.
In clinical research, we found sex bias in the degree of sex matching of included subjects, and in the frequency of sex-based reporting, analysis, and discussion of the data.

In this current work, we sought to understand the effect of author gender on sex bias in surgical research. In this work, we found that most authors are male, most authors work with other authors of the same gender, and sex bias is prevalent regardless of author gender. Most importantly, we found that sex inclusive research receives more citations after publication compared to sex-biased research.  Continue reading

Women Obtain Fewer STEM Degrees in Gender Equal Societies

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

David C. Geary, Ph.D. Curators' Distinguished Professor  Thomas Jefferson Fellow Department of Psychological Sciences Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Program University of Missouri Columbia, MO 65211-2500

Dr. Geary

David C. Geary, Ph.D.
Curators’ Distinguished Professor
Thomas Jefferson Fellow
Department of Psychological Sciences
Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Program
University of Missouri
Columbia, MO 65211-2500 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

 

Response:   We were interested in international variation in the percentage of women who obtain college degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, focusing on degrees in inorganic areas, such as physics and computer science (topics that do not deal with living things).  There is no sex difference in the life sciences, but there is in these fields. The gap is about 3 to 1 in the U.S. and has been stable for decades.

We wanted to link international variation in these degrees to student factors, including their best subject (e.g., science vs. reading) and their interests in science, as well as to more general factors such as whether the country provided strong economic opportunities and its rating on gender equality measures.

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Hormones Affect Carotid Plaque Stability and Stroke Vulnerability

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Marija Glisic Epidemiology, Erasmus MC

Marija Glisic

Marija Glisic
Epidemiology, Erasmus MC 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Carotid atherosclerosis is one of most important risk factors for developing stroke. Carotid atherosclerotic plaques characterized by lipid core presence and intraplaque haemorrhage are considered to be unstable, and therefore more prone to rupture and lead to consequent stroke. Sex differences have been observed in carotid plaque composition as well as in stroke incidence. Sex hormones, particularly estrogen and testosterone actions are suggested to underlie the observed sex differences in atherosclerosis. Experimental evidence suggests a direct action of estradiol and testosterone on the vascular system, affecting various mechanisms that may impact plaque composition and subsequently stroke risk.

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Men and Women May Take Different Kinds Of Risks

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Thekla Morgenroth

Preferred pronouns: They/them/their
Research Fellow in Social and Organisational Psychology
Psychology
University of Exeter
Washington Singer Laboratories,
Exeter UK 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Risk-taking is often seen as an important trait that leads to economic success – for example when it comes to investing money – and career success. For example, we often hear that leaders need to be willing to take risks. Risk-taking is also strongly associated with masculinity, which leads to the idea that maybe gender differences in economic and career success can be explained by the fact that women are just too risk averse. When you look at the risk-taking literature, it appears that there is support for this idea with many studies showing that men do indeed take more risks than men.

Our research questions these ideas. We show that current measures of risk-taking are biased. They focus only on stereotypical “masculine” risk taking behaviors such as betting your money on the outcome of a sporting event or going whitewater rafting, and ignore the many risks that women take, such as going horseback riding or donating a kidney to a family member. When this bias is addressed, gender differences in risk-taking disappear or even reverse.

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Gossip As An Evolutionary Strategy In Competition For Mates

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Adam C. Davis, MSc

PhD Education student
University of Ottawa
Ottawa, Ontario
Canada 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Charles Darwin argued that animals compete with members of the same sex for desired mates (i.e., intrasexual competition). Using this framework, evolutionary researchers have explored the variety of ways in which this kind of competition may play out across human cultures. Several researchers have argued that gossip may be an effective way for humans to compete for mates, but most of the research has been indirect up until this point.

In our study, we provide evidence that the reported tendency to compete with same-sex others for mates is associated with gossiping and positive attitudes toward learning about and spreading gossip. Gossip has also been argued to be women’s weapon of choice to compete for mates; however, few studies have tested this hypothesis. We provide evidence that women gossip to a greater extent than men, particularly about social information (e.g., friendships, romantic relationships) and the physical appearance of others (e.g., clothing), whereas men gossip more about achievement (e.g., salaries, promotions). Women also expressed more favourable attitudes toward gossiping than men.

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Why Do Women Take Fewer Financial Risks Than Men?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Patti J. Fisher, Ph.D. Associate Professor in Consumer Studies AHRM Department Virginia Tech

Dr. Fisher

Patti J. Fisher, Ph.D.
Associate Professor in Consumer Studies
AHRM Department
Virginia Tech

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Risk tolerance is one of the most important factors contributing to wealth accumulation and retirement. It is important to understand why women are less risk tolerant so that financial planners can better serve their needs because women, on average, live longer than men and often need more retirement savings.

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Facial Structure Linked To Sexual Drive and Orientation

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Steven Arnocky PhD Faculty of Arts & Science-Psychology Nipissing University Canada

Dr. Arnocky

Steven Arnocky PhD
Faculty of Arts & Science-Psychology
Nipissing University
Canada 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response:  – Previous research has linked the facial width-to-height ratio to a number of testosterone-mediated traits, primarily in men, such as aggression and achievement drive. Some research has also linked FWHR to testosterone directly, although this research is less consistent. If testosterone is linked to cranio-facial development then we hypothesized that facial masculinization should therefore correlate with other testosterone-linked traits. In both men and women, there is good evidence that testosterone increases sexual motivation.

In two samples of young-adults from two Canadian cities, we found that  facial width-to-height ratio predicted sex-drive, regardless of whether participants were male or female.

In the second study (the larger of the two) we also found that FWHR predicted a more unrestricted sociosexual orientation, in other words, attitudes and behavior consistent with more pluralistic mating, as well as more intended infidelity.

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Why Is HIV More Common in African American Women?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Tiffany Aholou Behavioral Scientist Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention CDC

Dr. Aholou

Dr. Tiffany Aholou
Behavioral Scientist
Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention
CDC

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Women accounted for 24% of people living with HIV in the United States at the end of 2013 and 19% of HIV diagnoses in 2014. Of these diagnoses, 78% were among black women and Latinas. HIV diagnoses among women are overwhelmingly attributed to heterosexual contact with a person known to have, or to be at high risk for, HIV infection. Of note, new HIV diagnoses among US women declined 40% over a 10 year period (2005-2014), yet we continue to see significant racial/ethnic disparities due largely to a complex web of demographic, individual, social and contextual factors with the environment that enables HIV risk behaviors to occur.

While the decline in new HIV diagnoses among US women is noteworthy, in our review of the literature, we found research studies that specifically focus on women and HIV from a domestic perspective were scarce. To fill this gap and sharpen our understanding about sexual behaviors that are associated with heterosexual transmission of HIV, this study used data from three cycles of the National Survey of Family Growth (2006-2008, 2008-2010, and 2011-2013) to examine HIV-related sexual risk and protective behaviors – concurrent sex partnerships, non-monogamous sex partners, and condom use at either last vaginal sex  or anal sex  – among sexually active women aged 18-44 years by race/ethnicity and over time.

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Sex Differences In Brain Structure of Boys and Girls With Conduct Disorder

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Areti Smaragdi, PhD University of Southampton Southampton, UK

Dr. Smaragdi

Areti Smaragdi, PhD
University of Southampton
Southampton, UK

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Conduct Disorder is a psychiatric disorder that involves severe antisocial behavior – symptoms of the condition include behaviors like physical fighting, pathological lying, and serious theft. The disorder affects around 5% of school-aged children and adolescents, and is up to three times more common in boys than girls. Because of this, very little research has focused on the possible brain basis of the disorder in girls.

We used MRI scanning methods to measure the brain structure of 48 boys and 48 girls with Conduct Disorder (14-18 years old) and 52 boys and 52 girls without severe antisocial behavior. We found that boys and girls with Conduct Disorder had reduced thickness and more folding in the prefrontal cortex, an area at the front of the brain which is responsible for reward and punishment processing and helping us to control our emotions and impulses. In contrast, in some other areas such as the superior frontal gyrus, which is involved in short-term memory, boys and girls with Conduct Disorder showed structural changes in opposite directions (e.g., more versus less folding) compared with controls. This suggests that there are common abnormalities in brain structure in boys and girls with Conduct Disorder, but also some sex differences that might indicate that the causes of the disorder are partly different in boys and girls.

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Brain Imaging Confirms Boys and Girls Experience Depression Differently

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Jie-Yu Chuang PhD Department of Psychiatry University of Cambridge Cambridge, United Kingdom

Dr. Jie-Yu Chuang

Jie-Yu Chuang PhD
Department of Psychiatry
University of Cambridge
Cambridge, United Kingdom 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Men and women appear to suffer from depression differently, and this is particularly striking in adolescents. By 15 years of age, girls are twice as likely to suffer from depression as boys. There are various possible reasons for this, including body image issues, hormonal fluctuations and genetic factors, where girls are more at risk of inheriting depression. However, differences between the sexes don’t just involve the risk of experiencing depression. Men are more liable to suffer from persistent depression, whereas in women depression tends to be more episodic. Compared with women, depressed men are also more likely to suffer serious consequences from their depression, such as substance abuse and suicide. Despite this, so far, most researchers have focused on depression in women, likely because it is more common. As a result, we’d like to make people more aware of the sex difference issue in depression.

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