Yentl Syndrome: A Deadly Data Bias Against Women

Longreads

Caroline Criado Perez | An excerpt adapted from Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men | Harry N. Abrams | 22 minutes (5,929 words)

In the 1983 film Yentl, Barbra Streisand plays a young Jewish woman in Poland who pretends to be a man in order to receive an education. The film’s premise has made its way into medical lore as “Yentl syndrome,” which describes the phenomenon whereby women are misdiagnosed and poorly treated unless their symptoms or diseases conform to that of men. Sometimes, Yentl syndrome can prove fatal.

If I were to ask you to picture someone in the throes of a heart attack, you most likely would think of a man in his late middle age, possibly overweight, clutching at his heart in agony. That’s certainly what a Google image search offers up. You’re unlikely to think of a woman: heart disease is…

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