Remember the Super Bowl hoax?
That was back in 1993, when feminist groups called a press conference to claim that Super Bowl Sunday was "the biggest day of the year for violence against women." NBC executives, cowed by the hysteria, agreed to run a public service spot just before the big game, reminding men to not beat up their wives after every touchdown.
Of course, the whole thing turned out to be a farce.
But there is another myth that many persons still accept at face value that women were shortchanged by medical research.
It all began in 1990, when Rep. Patricia Schroeder of Colorado made the claim that "When you have a male-dominated group of researchers, they are more worried about prostate cancer than breast cancer."
Apparently, Rep. Schroeder was ignorant of the fact that spending on breast cancer has long outstripped prostate research by a 3:1 ratio at the National Institutes of Health.
And when Sen. Barbara Mikulski learned that 9.7% of the NIH budget was allocated to women's health, newspaper headlines were filled with her shrill allegation of "Blatant discrimination." Sen. Mikulski was obviously unaware that only 4.5% of the NIH budget was allocated to men's health. The remainder of the money went to research that benefited both sexes.
The mass media has contributed to the disinformation campaign, as well. For example, the General Accounting Office published a report in 2000 showing that men represented only 37% of research participants.
Then USA Today ran an editorial on May 5, 2000 summarizing the GAO report. The column made this bizarre claim: "Moreover, the habit of overlooking women in medical research is deeply ingrained and hard to shake." Predictably, the editorial writer blamed it all on men: "And the research hierarchy is still largely dominated by the interests and concerns of white males."
Even medical researchers succumbed to the hysteria surrounding the female exclusion myth. In 1993, editor Marcia Angell wrote in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, "There is little doubt that women have been systematically excluded as subjects for study….it is not surprising that most clinical trials have been heavily, if not exclusively, weighted toward men".
But according to the NIH Inventory of Clinical Trials, women were included in 96% of clinical trials as early as 1979.
More troubling is that government officials would also mislead. Dr. Vivian Pinn, director of the NIH Office of Research on Women's Health (www4.od.nih.gov/orwh/), alleged in a 1997 interview that "women were routinely excluded from medical research supported by NIH."
Problem is, the reverse is the truth. Women have been routinely included in NIH research studies.
For example, Curtis Meinert of Johns Hopkins University did a head count of subjects in all clinical trials published in five leading medical journals in 1985, 1990, and 1995. Professor Meinert tallied over 906,000 participants in these trials, of whom 61% were female and 39% were male.
So where's the "routine exclusion" of women?
To this day, officials from the NIH Office of Research on Women's Health continue to spin the claim that women were shortchanged by medical research.
And every year, U.S. taxpayers cough up millions of dollars devoted to the bogus proposition that women's health needs to play catch-up.
June 30, 2003