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Space Suits and Equity

Theresa M. Rohr-Kirchgraber, MD

Theresa M. Rohr-Kirchgraber, MD

Gender Equity has a long way to go!

While it may seem like a small thing, not having a bullet proof vest that fits, surgical instruments that don’t fit your hand, scrubs that never seem to fit, reaching for a glove and the only boxes around are large gloves, these small inequities add up.

The plan was for a historical event with two women walking in space, the situation of the lack of appropriate suits derailed that. In what other ways have you felt this and have you brought it up? The gender inequity is happening to women in all environments especially those on front lines and dangerous jobs. Though Kevlar was invented by a woman, Stephanie Kwolek in 1966 and has been used in bullet proof vests since the 1970’s but have not fit properly for women until more recently.

Women are 47% more likely to suffer injuries in car accidents and their injuries are more severe then men. The differences in female neck strength, musculature, seating posture and head restraint position impact these numbers but just like research in medicine, the initial studies re: safety, were done in standard sized male mannequins.

Because men and women present with different disease symptoms, courses and responses to therapeutics, the understanding the impact of gender/sex on health is necessary to develop strategies for disease prevention and health promotion.

IUSM has participated in the Sex and Gender Summits from the beginning and the IUNCOE looks to further extend the understanding of sex and gender and the impact on health and life!

In an article from Wired, AMWA member, SaraLynn Mark, MD, discusses the issues that came about regarding the space suit debacle.

The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.
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Theresa Rohr-Kirchgraber