The importance of understanding our biases – a SgWIS talk by Dr. Elizabeth Pollitzer

We started off our year on a great note with an illuminating talk by Dr. Elizabeth Pollitzer on the need to recognise our biases in order to conduct great science. A big thanks to the MBI (Mechanobiology Institute, NUS) WIS group for co-hosting this event with us.

Her talk was filled with eye opening examples of how un-recognised biases in designing experiments can lead to the production of new technologies and therapies that have unequal benefits for consumers. At the networking happy hour afterwards discussions turned to real world examples, masculine crash test dummies which result in cars more likely to injure women and children, hip replacements that are modelled on masculine mechanism of movement, cancer and other therapies successfully tested on men in clinical trials that fail when used to treat women.

The talk ended with a motivating rallying cry for all of us to consider the biases within our research, and to approach problems with a truly interdisciplinary manner (social-scientists are scientists too!). By the end of the talk the audience was convinced that this would truly enhance the societal benefits of our science, but quickly got caught up in discussions of how to spread this message beyond the believers in the room.

All in all, a great start to the new year, and a motivating talk to help us open our discussions on hosting a collaborative gender summit in 2019 with all the other women in science groups here in Singapore.