We’re finally starting to leave behind the days when science was exclusively seen as the preserve of men, though old attitudes can linger. Women have been making discoveries for as long as humans have been studying the world, and they’re finally starting to get the recognition they’re due. That includes in agetech and other longevity science (https://longevity.technology/news/international-womens-day-the-wonderful-women-of-longevity/).
Highlighting the role of women isn’t just about trying to tick diversity boxes. Having a range of perspectives in the lab is incredibly valuable when trying to challenge old ideas and develop new approaches. This is especially true when we know some health problems impact women more than men. Historically speaking, male scientists haven’t always been that interested in the impacts of menstruation and menopause, but Dr Dina Radenkovic of Gameto sees them as a key aspect of women’s longevity, whilst Dr Daisy Robinton focuses on how ovarian decline impacts health.
It’s not just women, either. Other intersections, including race, sexual orientation and disability, can also impact both people’s health and their access to healthcare. Maaha Suleiman is a woman of color from the diverse area of Tower Hamlets in London. She talks openly about how that influences her approach when trying to ensure older people have access to social care that respects their culture and religious faith and that can overcome language barriers.
Of course, women are also involved in research that has applications for men too. For all the current frontiers in aging science, such as the role of inflammation and senescent cells, the potential of AI and machine learning, the increasing use of health apps and mobile devices to track biomedical data, the expansion of stem cell therapies and the increased interest in the medical potential of cannabis, there are women right there on the front line, whether conducting their own studies or running their own companies.
They’re also helping to ensure that the public can understand the latest discoveries and their potential impact. Eleanor Sheekey developed The Sheekey Science Show as a fun and accessible way for people to learn about science and the evidence behind it. Being able to see the facts presented in new and non-traditional ways can be an incredibly effective way to broaden comprehension.
Hopefully, seeing the success of these women in different areas of longevity science will encourage the next generation to follow a similar path.