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Discussion: Gender Bias in Research

Historically, men have dominated scientific research in that the both the researchers and participants have largely been male. Accordingly, the way research has been designed, the way studies have been conducted, and the ways in which results have been interpreted have been at risk for gender bias. In other words, the preconceived ideas and beliefs or unfounded prejudice about the traits and characteristics of each gender potentially influence the outcomes of research studies. Even today, as women have entered into the academic and scientific world in significant numbers, research is subject to gender bias. The implications of gender bias can be far reaching. As the scientific community uses research study results for subsequent research and the media picks up the results to report findings to the public, gender bias can have a huge impact. Society may be making decisions that are based on incorrect, misleading, or biased data. As an example, a majority of early heart disease research was conducted primarily using male subjects leading to the assumption that heart disease was a man’s disease and did not significantly impact women. The gender bias in heart disease research resulted in little attention being paid to women who had heart disease symptoms, as well as delays and limitations in the treatment for these symptoms for many years. In reality, it is now common knowledge that heart disease is the leading cause of death for women, as it is for men.

This Discussion asks you to think about how gender bias can impact scientific research and how the findings of biased research can impact individuals and society.

To prepare for this Discussion:

  • Review the Preface, the assigned pages in Chapter 1, and pages 35–47 from Chapter 2 in the course text, Gender: Psychological Perspectives, focusing on why researchers study gender, why researchers include gender as a factor in psychological studies, and how researchers can be biased in their research with regard to gender.
  • Think about the following questions:
    • What impact does gender bias in research have on interpretation of the results of research studies?
    • How does gender bias in research potentially perpetuate the view of what men and women are and should be?
    • What impact could the biased research have on individuals of each gender and on society as a whole?
    • How does the media then use research findings to inform, persuade, sell, and so forth?

With these thoughts in mind:

By Day 3

Post an analysis of the role of gender bias both in the study of psychology and in the reporting of results by others, including the implications. Provide at least two specific examples for each to illustrate your points.

Be sure to support your postings and responses with specific references to the Learning Resources.

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