Gender Safety Gap Airbags, medication, surgeries – being a woman is a risk!


When it comes to driving safety, medication or operations: many areas of our lives are not optimized for women. We have a gender safety gap, experts warn.

Everyone is sure to agree on this: today there are at least twice as many warnings and safety instructions as there were ten years ago. Every pack of cigarettes warns with shocking photos, and the chapters “Possible side effects” and “Contraindications” on the package inserts for medicines are getting longer and longer.

The safety of the individual is becoming more and more important. However, the emphasis is on to the individuals, not the Individuals, i.e. the woman, because this does not apply to women in many areas. Your safety seems to be secondary, there is a lot of evidence for that.

Increased risk of injury in car accidents

A particularly impressive example are the so-called restraint systems in cars, i.e. airbags and belts. Various studies show that when it comes to car accidents, women are 47 percent more likely to be injured and that these injuries are even more than 70 percent worse than those of men.

The explanation for this is obvious: The restraint systems are tested with crash test dummies and improved on the basis of these results – and although there are male and female dummies that correspond to the different genders in terms of size, weight, bone stability and so on, they are female rarely used. The reason: the EU has not yet stipulated this.

How do carmakers do this? Every manufacturer has to carry out corresponding tests with dummies for occupant safety, but the ADAC explains that there is no information about the ratio of male/female dummies. Incidentally, the ADAC also checks the restraint systems, even according to stricter criteria than the car manufacturers. But here, too, there is only one female test dummy for every four male test dummies.

differences in medicine

From injuries it is not a big step to the subject of medicine and drugs. Many are tailored to the male body, although it has long been known that men and women are ill differently and can also respond differently to active ingredients. However, the many studies that a drug has to go through before it can be approved primarily involve men as test subjects. This applies above all to the early studies, i.e. the phase I tests, as experts at the Federal Congress on Gender Health noted. As a result, the dosage recommendations that apply to men can sometimes be a little too high for women. This could increase the risk of side effects. Incidentally, this deficit is known internationally as the Gender Health Gap.

Therapies are also often worse and more stressful for women than for men. It has long been known that women have worse chances than men after a heart attack – but the fact has still not fundamentally changed. It has been proven that women die more often than men from a heart attack, as the German Heart Foundation recently drew attention to.

And now comes the surprise: Unless they are being treated by a doctor. Then their chances are just as high as those of male patients, as further studies show. Female doctors therefore treat their patients equally well, regardless of whether they are male or female.

Difficulties in disease prevention

Finally, an example from preventive medicine: Mammography is painful and extremely uncomfortable. Non-stressful diagnostic methods such as thermography (infrared measurement) and ultrasound are not considered a substitute for mammography. Perhaps these techniques would have been further developed or there would be another examination method that does not require the nasty squeezing – if men had to endure something similar. Because even if the blood test should come for breast cancer, the mammography still has to show where the cancer is and how big it is.

Despite everything: Women still have a life expectancy that is about five years higher than men, which is also genetically determined. But if women’s safety were addressed more, if the gender health gap were closed, women could live much longer.


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