Celebrating Women’s History Month with Female Leaders in Community Health Data
Authored by Dan Warner, Ph.D.
Women’s History Month is ending, and I’m only now getting out my blog to celebrate it. But I have a good reason! I’ve been so busy this month working with women, who are now, and always have been, the vanguard of my field: community health data.
The very field of public health cannot be discussed without reference to Florence Nightingale who revolutionized how we use data (she was the first woman granted access to the British Royal Society of Statistics and revolutionized visual data display) and helped to develop the modern field of nursing and public health.
Margaret Sanger is another woman of epic historical status. She amassed a huge and unparalleled repository of data regarding women’s health and reproduction through her journal, Birth Control Review. The legacies of these women, like many that walk in their footsteps, demonstrate that data is “gender neutral” and can be revolutionized by people of all hormonal and chromosomal status. Their stories also reveal various prejudices against “the other sex,” which many have struggled against to achieve an equitable and fair society.
Our two most recent Data Talks also featured women engaged in cutting edge work pertaining to data and health.
We’ve recently posted the latest Data Talks to our web page for anyone who missed them! First, back in November, we featured Kathy Gracey of Vanderbilt University, who is conducting some of the most ground-breaking work in children’s services research, and in adjudicating risk using tools like the CANS and FAST. I’ve never had the chance to ask Kathy about any particular barriers she has met for being a woman in her field (and I’m sure she can tell me stories). However this has not stopped her from putting out strong science that strengthens our understanding of decision support in community health, and gets used to improve care.
Just last month, we featured Clair Kronk, a young and innovative thinker working to improve the way we categorize sex and gender within health information systems. Dr. Kronk’s work focuses on improving health care for all women (cisgender, transgender, and intersex) as well as for others historically not represented in electronic health record systems.
These women (and many others!) continue to challenge the limitations of our knowledge and the prejudices of history. As Women’s History Month closes, let’s remember that women make history in our world every day, and are working to make our world a better place for everyone.
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