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Alzheimer’s Society marks International Women’s Day

Thursday 19 March 2020

Dementia is the healthcare challenge of our generation. And whilst dementia doesn’t discriminate, it hits women the hardest. On International Women’s Day, Alzheimer’s Society took the opportunity to shine a light on women’s experiences of dementia and of working in dementia research.

Worldwide, women with dementia outnumber men two to one and face more severe and rapidly progressing symptoms. Women also provide a much greater proportion of unpaid care to people living with dementia. Globally, this amounts to the equivalent of 40 million full-time workers every single year.

Dementia is a women’s issue and it’s one that women can solve, Alzheimer’s Society asserts. Evidence shows that research studies with at least one female contributor are more likely to tackle women’s health issues and the differences between the genders, than studies with no female contributors. Unfortunately, women are still under-represented in research, particularly at the highest levels. Women make up only 24% of the total UK STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) workforce and hold only 14% of STEM management roles. In order to create an environment where the impact of dementia upon women is reduced, stronger supports are needed which will empower female researchers to succeed.

Alzheimer’s Society is taking action to create a better world for women living with dementia, women carers and women researchers. Family-friendly policies and research funding procedures are in place to support scientists to stay in dementia research careers. Alongside this, Alzheimer’s Society’s grant review boards and external reviewers are proportionally split 50/50 male and female to avoid gender bias in funding decisions.

The results speak for themselves. There is a much fairer gender representation in the Society’s research, with 55% of active research projects led by women.  Women are also equally represented at senior level, with women leading over 51% of project-level grants.

Alzheimer’s Society is also spearheading work across the UK with employees and businesses to support workers with dementia care commitments. All the while, the Society continues to strive to be there for everyone affected by dementia, via the new national support service, Dementia Connect.

In the coming year, Alzheimer’s Society looks forward to doing even more to secure a fairer deal for people living with dementia and their carers, as well as addressing the gender imbalance in dementia research.