The changing position of women in the medical marketplace: women's health morphs into gender-specific medicine.Int J Fertil Womens Med. 2002 Mar-Apr; 47(2):55-60.IJ
Traditionally, society--including the academic medical community--has concentrated on the male patient. Women were protected from clinical investigation on human subjects. However, World War II brought about far-reaching changes. The experience of Americans during the prolonged struggle gave them an enduring confidence in the power of science to prolong and improve human life that culminated in the expansion of the National Institutes of Health under the leadership of James A. Shannon. The other profound change in American society was in the attitude of women, who, as a result of their enormously increased options during the war to hold jobs and enter professions that had previously been the exclusive province of men, united in the feminist movement. By the end of the 1980s, the voices of women themselves galvanized the United States government to effect a series of maneuvers that have revolutionized our concept of the importance of biological sex in human biology. This paper reviews the changes in American medical research, and the delivery of medical care, to men and women over the past century, which laid the foundation for an in-depth exploration of the impact of gender on normal human function and the way human beings experience disease.