Resource portfolio

Terms

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.

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. 

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.

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.

Diversity: the inclusion of different types of people (with multicultural backgrounds) and/or all minority groups. In simple terms, diversity means difference and has no negative connotations. There is diversity in the health care workforce and the patient populations we serve. Human diversity that needs to be recognized and understood to prevent these differences from becoming barriers. Read more here.

Tools

1. Integrating Sex & Gender in Health Research 

Online Training Modules

As part of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Institute of Gender and Health is an international leader in fostering research that explores how sex and gender influence health. Here you can find their useful Online Training Modules. Take these training courses to learn how to:

  • Distinguish between and define sex and gender in health research.
  • Identify sex and gender differences in the mechanism, disease or treatment under study.
  • Identify methods for integrating sex and gender variables in health research contexts. 
  • Assess a research protocol or publication based on the integration or omission of sex and/or gender.

We also recommend the NIH sex-and-gender training modules, which are also free online but are more extensive, taking 5-6 hours. 

Tip: If you are looking for gender experts in Sweden - the searchble database Greda might be helpful.

RRI (Responsible Research and Innovation) Tools 

How to design a RRI-oriented project proposal

How to embed gender equality in research proposals

RRI Toolkit

2. Gender Toolkit for 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 and Gender in research as a mark of excellence.

 

 

The latest information related to EU funded research - how to make research gender sensitive:

For a better integration of the gender dimension in the Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2018-2020 - Position paper from Advisory Group for Gender December 2016.

Helsinki Group on Gender in Research and Innovation - Position paper on H2020 interim evaluation and preparation of FP9.

H2020 Programme - Guidance on Gender Equality in Horizon 2020.

3. 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.

CHECK LIST

Develop your knowledge of S/G issues

  • Do a careful literature review. Are there known sex differences or gender disparities for the phenomen of interest?
  • Avoid using terms "sex" and "gender" interchangeably in your writing.

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, whether sex differences are observed or not.

Raise the profile of S/G issues

  • As a reviewer, ensure that applicants/authors identify and justify the sex of the materials used, and make sure that the terms sex and gender are used appropriately.
  • Ask questions of colleagues and trainees: have they considered whether s/g issues might be relevant to their work?

 

Diagram showing steps to investigate the sex-biased factors that cause a sex difference in animals for decision tree to study sex differences:

 

Diagram sex-biased factors

Read more:

A Guide for the Design of Pre-clinical Studies on Sex Differences in Metabolism by FranckMauvais-Jarvis et al 2017. 

 

Age, sex & drug trials in women:

Read more:

Viewpoint on Reporting Sex, Gender, or Both in Clinical Research? By J Clayton and C Tannenbaum, JAMA. 2016. 

Age and sex in drug development and testing for adults at Pharmacol Res. 2017 by Tannenbaum C, Day D and Matera Alliance.

4. Gendered Innovations

GenderedInnovations.se

In 2016 the first Swedish online platform dedicated to Sex and Gender-inspired innovation was launched. Gendered Innovations - a space inspired by the Stanford University correspondent, is a new website that harness the creative power of sex and gender analysis for new discoveries and innovations. The aim is to provide a go-to source with useful content in the form of Swedish expertise, experience, tools, videos and case studies. It is still in beta version but now we are welcoming visitors and are happy to receive feedback to make sure that the content is as relevant as possible!

From the use of women-like manikins for crush test, to the development of respiratory devices for overweight men, the website provides numerous examples on how to improve a product and open a market under the light of gender diversity. The platform was created to introduce the concept of gender diversity to the Swedish audience; to industries as well as to doctors and scientists. We warmly acknowledge Stanford University, in particular Professor Londa Schiebinger, for seeding the very first version of the website, initiated at the Clayman Institute in 2009. With this website, Sweden becomes the first country to adopt this model, after the United States.

Users can browse through the different sections of the webpage, and find out the methodologies that should be adopted to analyse whether certain R&D has the potential to expand towards a diversification by sex and gender. “Sex and gender can influence all stages of R&D processes, from strategic considerations for establishing priorities and building theory to more routine tasks of formulating questions, designing methodologies, and interpreting data” says the webpage. The Swedish Expertise & Experience section is under development and new content is being published gradually. The Gendered Innovation Alliance hope to release an updated version of the website where users can add case studies and experiences. 

The 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.

The advantages of using genderedinnovations.se:
  • The platform allows the implementation of a multilingual approach (contact Karolina Kublickiene if you are interested in implementation in your country)
  • Enhanced flexibility and user friendly approach when adding new pages to the website and/or adapting information according to national experiences and conditions
  • Fast and easy page management: locally approved administrator/user may edit content without complicated software or programming
  • Possible to have users with limited access to certain parts of the website (eg: users who are only allowed to edit case studies, etc.)
  • The IT platform on which GenderedInnovations.se is based upon is continuously being evolved - new functionality and features are persistently being developed and planned to be implemented
  • Possibility to integrate social media - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

5. Gendered Reactions

An example of Innovative student driven collaboration for genderedinnovations: a beta website aiming to highlight the male and female perspectives on the use of pharmaceutical drugs. “Gendered Reactions” is an interactive space that allows quick identification of side effects that drugs trick on people, divided by their frequency between women and men. Watch also the film on YouTube and read more about this project. 

6. Sex & Gender Pub Quiz

Have fun in student pubs with our Sex&Gender Pub Quiz made in collaboration with the Think Train

7. Video Methods and Techniques for Integrating the Biological Variable "Sex" in Preclinical Research

On 20 October 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. A new NIH workshop will take place on 26 October 2017.

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

Gender, Sex and Health Research Guide: A Tool for Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Applicants

Research approach:

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)

Literature review:

  • 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?

Research methods:

  • 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?

Ethics:

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".