Tools for Sex and Gender Analysis in Health
Sex refers to biological qualities characteristic of women [females] and men [males] in terms of reproductive organs and functions based on chromosomal complement and physiology. As such, sex is globally understood as the classification of living things as male and female, and intersexed.
Gender – a socio-cultural process – refers to cultural and social attitudes that together shape and sanction “feminine” and “masculine” behaviours, products, technologies, environments, and knowledge11. Gender equality: gender equality is the result of the absence of discrimination on the basis of a person’s sex in opportunities and the allocation of resources or benefits or in access to services.
Sex/ gender analysis: is an umbrella term for the entire research cycle that includes the integration of sex/ gender issues from the setting of research priorities through developing methodologies, gathering and analysing data to evaluating and reporting results and transferring them to markets.
Gender dimension in research: is a concept regrouping the various elements concerning biological characteristics and social/cultural factors of both women and men into the development of research policies, programmes and projects.
1. Toolkit Gender in EU-funded research
How to make research gender-sensitive
To make research gender-sensitive one needs to take gender into account at all stages of the research cycle. Gender-sensitive research takes a twin approach: it pays attention to the participation of women and men, providing equal opportunities for all, and it integrates gender into the research content all the way from the initial research idea to the dissemination of results. Read more in the Toolkit Gender in EU-funded research. For the Tookit Gender in swedish, please download here.
2. Sex/Gender Toolbox for Pre-clinical and clinical research
Read more in the article (Ritz Et al. 2014) First steps for integrating sex and gender considerations into basic experimental biomedical research.
Sex/Gender Toolbox for pre-clinical and clinical research
Develop your knowledge of S/G issues
- Do a carefull literature review. Are there known sex differences or gender disparities for the phenonmen of interest?
- Avoid using terms "sex" and "gender" interchangeably in your writting.
Discuss S/G where appropriate
- Always report sex of the cells, tissues, animals or subjects you are using.
- If using one sex only, justify why, and note the limitations in your discussion.
- Always discuss possible s/g implications of your findings.
Introduce a small intervention
- Do a small pilot experiment to examine the influenece of some elements of s/g in your model system:
- Add a hormone to one of your cultures.
- Include male and female animals in the key experimental groups.
- Report what you find, wheter sex differences are observed or not.
Raise the profile of S/G issues
- As a reviewer, ensure that applicats/authors identify and justify the sex of the materials used, and make sure that the terms sex and gender are used appropriatly.
- Ask questions of colleguages and trainees: have they considered whether s/g issues might be relevant to their work?
4. Gendered Reactions
The Center for Gender Medicine (CfGM) of Karolinska Institutet released a beta website aiming to highlight the male and female perspectives on the use of pharmaceutical drugs. GenderedReactions.com is an interactive space that allows quick identification of side effects that drugs trick on people, divided by their frequency between women and men.
5. Gendered Innovations
Gendered Innovations is a website that harness the creative power of sex and gender analysis to discover new things.
This website has six interactive main portals:
1. Methods of sex and gender analysis for research and engineering
2. Case studies illustrate how sex and gender analysis leads to innovation
3. Terms address key concepts used throughout the site
4. Checklists for researchers, engineers, and evaluators
5. Policy provides recommendations in addition to links to key national and international policies that support Gendered Innovations
6. Institutional Transformation summarizes current literature on: 1) increasing the numbers of women in science, health & medicine, and engineering; 2) removing subtle gender bias from research institutions; and 3) solutions and best practices.
Soon we will have a translation in to Swedish language.
6. Sex & Gender Pub Quiz
7. Video Methods and Techniques for Integrating the Biological Variable "Sex" in Preclinical Research
On October 20th 2014, the US National Institute of Health’s Office of Research on Women’s Health sponsored a Workshop on Methods and Techniques for Integrating the Biological Variable “Sex” into Preclinical Research.Watch the 7.5-hour videocast, it includes results of current research, and the last hour discusses how this research can be mainstreamed throughout NIH and the broader community of researchers.
8. Examples of SEX and GENDER influences Infographic
This infographic image was developed bi NIH (National Institute of Health in USA).
9. Gender, Sex and Health Research Guide: A Tool for CIHR Applicants
Are the concepts of gender and/or sex used in your research project?
- If yes, have you explicitly defined the concepts of gender and/or sex? Is it clear what aspects of gender and/or sex are being examined in your study?
- If no, do you consider this to be a significant oversight? Given your knowledge of the relevant literature, are there plausible gender and/or sex factors that should have been considered? If you consider sex and/or gender to be highly relevant to your proposed research, the research design should reflect this.
Research questions and hypotheses:
- Does your research question(s) or hypothesis/es make reference to gender and/or sex, or relevant groups or phenomena? (e.g., differences between males and females, differences among women, seeking to understand a gendered phenomenon such as masculinity)
- Does your literature review cite prior studies that support the existence of significant differences between women and men, boys and girls, or males and females?
- Does your literature review point to the extent to which past research has taken gender or sex into account?
- Is your sample appropriate to capture gender and/or sex based factors? Is it possible to collect data that are disaggregated by sex and/or gender? Are the inclusion and exclusion criteria well justified with respect to sex and/or gender? (Note: this pertains to human and animal subjects and non-organismic biological systems)
- Is the data collection method proposed in your study appropriate for investigations of sex and /or gender?
- Is your analytic approach appropriate and rigorous enough to capture gender and/or sex based factors?
Does your study design account for the relevant ethical issues that might have particular significance with respect to gender and/or sex?
(e.g., inclusion of pregnant women in clinical trials)
10. NIH Notice Guide "Considering Sex as a Biological Variable in NIH-funded Research" (NOT-OD-15-102)
On June 9th, 2015, the NIH published guide notices "Enhancing Reproducibility through Rigor and Transparency" (NOT-OD-15-103), as well as "Considering Sex as a Biological Variable in NIH-funded Research" (NOT-OD-15-102).
Key Paragraphs - Consideration of Sex as a Biological Variable in NIH-funded Research
"Accounting for sex as a biological variable begins with the development of research questions and study design. It also includes data collection and analysis of results, as well as reporting of findings. Consideration of sex may be critical to the interpretation, validation, and generalizability of research findings. Adequate consideration of both sexes in experiments and disaggregation of data by sex allows for sex-based comparisons and may inform clinical interventions. Appropriate analysis and transparent reporting of data by sex may therefore enhance the rigor and applicability of preclinical biomedical research".