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Topic: Sex and gender in biomedical research

Definitions, webinars and other resources on gender and gender bias in health research

While gender and sex can be separated for analytical reasons, biological and social aspects of our lives are related. This means that sex and gender shape each other.  

Sex refers to biology. In humans, sex refers to the biological attributes that distinguish male, female, and/or intersex. See more.  

Gender refers to sociocultural norms, identities, and relations that: 1) structure societies and organizations; and 2) shape behaviors, products, technologies, environments, and knowledges (Schiebinger, 1999). Gender attitudes and behaviors are complex and change across time and place. Importantly, gender is multidimensional (Hyde et al., 2018) and intersects with other social categories, such as sex, age, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation and ethnicity. Gender is distinct from sex (Fausto-Sterling, 2012). See more. 

Gender bias and sex assumptions in biomedical research can have an adverse impact in the lives of patients. For this reason, it is important to include the categories of sex and gender biomedical research. This inclusion can help raise awareness on:  

  • How new concepts and theories of gender can bring to light new evidence. 
  • How background assumptions about sex and gender can shape concepts and theories in the field. 
  • Important questions that can be asked to assess this influence: 
  • Do researchers assume certain gender roles? 
  • Are researchers aware of possible gender biases in their field? 
  • Do researchers assume that sex and gender are binary? 
  • Do researchers take into consideration the interactions between sex and gender? 


This episode of ELSI Dialogues explores how providing the research community with the resources and information needed to include sex and gender factors into their work will result in more inclusive and impactful results.

Amanda Montañez explains how she developed a graphic for Scientific American that visualizes the spectrum of biological sex that had not been visualized before in its complexity.

Webinar: EU support to gender equality in research and innovation

This talk will provide an overview of the strengthened provisions for gender equality in Horizon Europe, explaining how gender equality plans can become a game changer for structural change at research organizations, and why integrating the gender dimension in research proposals matters.

Webinar: “Gendered Innovations.” The Importance of Gender in Biomedical Research

Join BBMRI-ERIC for an exciting 2-hour webinar on gender in biomedical research, featuring two outstanding speakers: Londa Schiebinger (John L. Hinds Professor of History of Science) and Sabine Oertelt-Prigione (Professor of sex- and gender-sensitive medicine at the University of Bielefeld).

The European Commission’s gender equality strategy 2020-2025

The European Commission is committed to promoting gender equality in research and innovation. It is part of the European Commission Gender Equality Strategy for 2020-2025, which sets out the Commission’s broader commitment to equality across all EU policies.

Gendered innovations

Thirty years of research have revealed that sex and gender bias are socially harmful and expensive. This website includes case studies as concrete illustrations of how sex and gender analysis lead to new ideas and excellence in research in several fields including health & medicine. 

Gender Equality in Academia and Research – GEAR tool

Making universities and research organisations equal for women and men. The Gender Equality in Academia and Research (GEAR) tool provides universities and research organisations with practical advice and tools through all stages of institutional change, from setting up a gender equality plan to evaluating its real impact

Gender equality and health in the EU (2021)

This report, managed by Fondazione Giacomo Brodolini Srl SB (FGB), provides a cross-cutting view of key health topics in the EU from a gender perspective, analysing the main issues with a specific focus on differences between women and men. A view on gender issues in COVID-19 is provided. Recognising the importance of social, environmental and economic determinants on health (WHO, 2019c), the conclusions and recommendations locate the data within the broader framework of social policies and gender health equity (Beckfield et al., 2017).


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The website was co-funded within ADOPT BBMRI-ERIC, a project that has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 676550.
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