Resources portfolio - Gendered Innovation Alliance
Welcome to the toolbox for the implementation of sex, gender & diversity dimension aspects in biomedical research and education.
|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.|
|Gender||a socio-cultural process – refers to cultural and social attitudes that together shape and sanction “feminine” and “masculine” behaviours, products, technologies, environments, and knowledge. 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.|
|Intersectionality||relates to the observation that power structures based on categories such as gender, race, sexuality, functionality and class interact with each other in various ways and create inequalities, discrimination and oppression.|
|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.|
Integrating Sex & Gender in Health Research
How to Make Research Gender Sensitive
Are sex and gender perspectives relevant in your research? We recommend this announcement from the Swedish Research Council about addressing sex and gender aspects of research. You can also check out KI Grants Office’s new web pages providing information on funders’ requirements relating to the sex-and-gender dimension, as well as resources to help you address it.
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.
To make research gender-sensitive, one needs to take gender into account at all stages of the research cycle (Toolkit Gender in EU-funded research):
Intersectionality in STEM
"To foster inclusive work and academic environments, we need to understand how people experience these settings differently, and under what conditions. An intersectional analysis can highlight areas that need improvement, and offer strategies to foster spaces where all identities can thrive." This infographic explores a few areas where this analysis is useful for STEM communities.
Online Training Modules
NIH - National Institutes of Health
The NIH Office of Research on Women's Health and the Food and Drug Administration Office of Women’s Health developed a free online course that explores sex- and gender-related differences in key disciplines important to human health and disease. The modules in this course can be helpful to researchers, clinicians, and students when designing and conducting research and/or interpreting evidence for clinical practice.
We also recommend the NIH sex-and-gender training modules, which are also free online but are more extensive, taking 5-6 hours.
Women’s College Research Institute (WCRI) - SGBA+ (sex- and gender-based analysis plus)
The SGBA+ team at Women’s College Research Institute (WCRI) provides The Health Researcher’s Toolkit, a series of seven interactive e-learning modules focused on the integration of sex and gender in health research. The modules are designed to benefit both experienced and emerging researchers across a range of disciplines, from medical sciences to social sciences and everything in between.
They also have a new online course for Health Research: Intersectionality as a Research Lens: A Pathway to Better Science.
Canadian Institutes of Health Research
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.
RRI (Responsible Research & Innovation)
Tools & Guidelines
IGAR tool - Recommendations for Integrating Gender Analysis into Research by the GENDER-NET Project funded by the European Commission under the Science in Society workprogramme. On this website you will find tools and resources to promote high quality science by Integrating the Gender Analysis into Research (IGAR).
GEAM tool - The Gender Equality Audit and Monitoring tool, developed by ACTonGender is an integrated environment for carrying out survey-based gender equality audits in academic organizations or organizational units.
Information Related to EU-funded Research
H2020 Programme - Guidance on Gender Equality in Horizon 2020.
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.
Sex/Gender Checklist for Pre-Clinical and Clinical Research
Below is a summary from the article (Ritz Et al. 2014) First steps for integrating sex and gender considerations into basic experimental biomedical research.
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:
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.
Let's Get Published!
Advice from European Association of Science Editors
For more a comprehensive view, please see this recent lecture by Paola De Castro Istituto Superiore di Sanità
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 crash tests, 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
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.
Sex & Gender Pub Quiz
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.
Examples of Sex & Gender Influences - infographic
This infographic image was developed bi NIH (National Institute of Health in USA).
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)
NIH (The National Institutes of Health - U.S.)
NIH is driving continued progress in biomedical research that is improving the health of people across the United States and around the world. There is growing recognition that the quality and generalizability of biomedical research depends on the consideration of key biological variables, such as sex.
- News from NIH for sex and gender aspects: The Office of Research on Women’s Health, has developed a 5-year strategic plan to provide a framework for coordinating NIH efforts to advance science for the health of women. 2019-2023 Trans-NIH Strategic Plan for Women's Health Research: "Advancing Science for the Health of Women"
- NIH's policy to factor sex as a biological variable into research designs, analyses, and reporting for NIH-funded vertebrate animal and human studies: "Considering Sex as a Biological Variable in NIH-funded Research"
- Learn how to address rigor and reproducibility in your grant application and discover what reviewers are looking for as they evaluate the application for scientific merit: "Enhancing Reproducibility through Rigor and Transparency"
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".