Yet another reason why we need women, as well as men, in science

Posted by Sappho on April 30th, 2014 filed in Science

Via my husband, I learned about this article in Science Daily, reporting that

Scientists’ inability to replicate research findings using mice and rats has contributed to mounting concern over the reliability of such studies.

Now, an international team of pain researchers led by scientists at McGill University in Montreal may have uncovered one important factor behind this vexing problem: the gender of the experimenters has a big impact on the stress levels of rodents, which are widely used in preclinical studies.

In research published online April 28 in Nature Methods, the scientists report that the presence of male experimenters produced a stress response in mice and rats equivalent to that caused by restraining the rodents for 15 minutes in a tube or forcing them to swim for three minutes. This stress-induced reaction made mice and rats of both sexes less sensitive to pain….

After all, if we didn’t have both male and female researchers, how would we have found this out? True, if we’d had only one sex doing the research, we wouldn’t have had trouble replicating the findings to begin with. But it’s failure like this that leads to new knowledge.

2 Responses to “Yet another reason why we need women, as well as men, in science”

  1. Marian Neudel Says:

    See James Tiptree’s “The Man Who Would Not Do Terrible Things to Mice.”

  2. Lynn Gazis-Sax (Sappho) Says:

    Cool! I’ll have to look for that one.