The pandemic has highlighted several issues and changes, not least the environmental changes and the changes in respect of food and our health. The pandemic has been having a greater toll on women according to a study by the University of Calgary, which found “women reporting more anxiety and depression.
“Their symptoms worsened over time and with greater length of the isolation period. There was a progressive increase in anxiety, depression, poor sleep quality and trauma for males and females. But it was greater for females over time.”
Women have always been traditionally ignored or sidelined in medicine. The one thing we all know is how important and critical a role data plays in aiding treatment and creating medication. Data also allows scientists and medical professionals to respond in a more intelligent way to health issues.
However, what we find is that there is a data gap in female biology. For instance, with most medications women face adverse reactions twice as often as men simply because they have been traditionally excluded from biomedical research, according to Tamarra James-Todd, an epidemiologist from Harvard Medical School.
Yet with the growth of technology and the use of apps it was discovered that women are “75 per cent more likely to use digital tools for healthcare than men”.
As a result, the tech sector (albeit slowly) has identified an ever-growing marketplace – the FemTech sector. The terminology FemTech was coined by Ida Tin only about five or six years ago and refers to technology such as apps and services that were designed to help women improve their reproductive health.
This sector has not gone unnoticed by both the regulatory environment and business sector. By 2015 FemTech start-ups raised $82m in funding from investing firms with an estimate of $200bn being spent on FemTech products each year.
Despite this arena being a goldmine, both for the women who would benefit from the technology and companies creating the tech, venture capitalists are still missing the boat simply because investors don’t understand the health issues involved.
This is because women’s health issues have always been on the fringes and therefore there is a gap in knowledge/data which scientists and businesses are now trying to close. Forbes predicted in 2019 that the FemTech will become a $50bn industry by 2025. This sounds like a positive step in the right direction.
Women make up half of the population and I have already mentioned the gap in data with regards to women. With that in mind, the gender diversity of the investors has to be critical in order to really appreciate and understand the value proposition of the product.
If I was to say 52 per cent of women have period pains that affect them at work, to the point it makes it hard for them to work, but only 27 per cent women talk about it with their employers.
We can see there is a real gap in the understanding of the reality of issues facing women in the workplace.
What is clear is that FemTech in such a short space of time is no longer a niche market. The phrase itself makes it sound niche, but it is far from it as it caters for over half of the world’s population.
The need to address health issues in us all is a good business proposition in terms of both a healthy workforce and a healthy bank balance for investors, which ultimately is good for the community as a whole.
Helping over 51 per cent of our population address health issues and concerns will also indirectly impact the remaining 49 per cent. So, yes, FemTech is here to stay.
Does the terminology need to change? Does it really matter? What matters is that finally investors have woken up to the ever-increasing demand of the changing relationship of health and women.