Within the past year or so, I’ve had quite a few female friends of mine struggle with medical issues in some shape or form related to their gender.
These are people from different parts of the country, different walks of life and with different problems, but their treatment was universally steeped in forms of sexism. Some suffered from medical ignorance about how their hormones effected their bodies, while others struggled under dismissive attitudes.
Historically speaking, people born in female bodies have gotten the short end of the medical stick, because the male has always been the default.
I’ve noticed similarities in education. Boys do still face difficulties, especially if they’re members of marginalized groups, but girls are still dismissed or seen as somehow less important on a regular basis.
This manifests in a lot of ways, but it’s especially obvious in the fact that boys are still diagnosed more often than girls.
Is this because boys are still getting more attention? Do symptoms manifest differently, and girls who are struggling just get missed? Are boys biologically more likely to be neurodiverse than girls, or is the identification gap cultural?
We already know that girls are still encouraged by toy companies and the media to have more interest in domesticity than academics. When I look at craft kits for kids, the girls’ kits are almost always geared towards makeup or jewelry, while the boys get biology and science. As an adult, I get more cleaning and ‘health’ products marketed at me than technology or alcohol.
We also already know that none of those marketing choices are based in biology. My ovaries don’t compel me to clean the house as an adult any more than they did to foster a love of pink in childhood.
It’s not much of a stretch to see how this constant barrage translates into how kids are treated differently in school.
Keeping history and my personal experiences in mind, I have a hard time believing this disparity is due to any sort of physical difference. The issue is that girls are still getting missed in schools due to deeply ingrained, outdated gender ideals, and they’re not getting the help they need.
We can encourage girls to pursue STEM, higher education or jobs in the trades forever, but if LD and autistic girls aren’t getting the help they need, those efforts won’t reach the girls who need that support the most.