Sex and Gender in Health Research

Featuring content from Dr. Erin Prosser-Loose, Research Equity & Diversity Specialist, College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan.

Sex is identity based on…

Biological attributes such as genes, hormones, and reproductive/sexual anatomy.

Gender is identity based on…

How we perceive ourselves and others; socially constructed roles, behaviours, and expressions.

Main issues in health research:

Biological sex differences are not well understood & gender bias is often present in research design and health delivery.


Consider Intersecting Factors!

Sex and gender do not exist in a vacuum. They are interconnected with domains such as race, ethnicity, social position, sexual orientation, disability, oppression, privilege, policies, practices, etc., and many of these can vary based on individual situations. Even in work with lab animals, consider strain, age, temperament, behaviour, and environmental enrichment.

How can you address intersecting factors in your work?

For more information on sex and gender in health research, or to analyze your own research design, download the Checklist for Integrating Sex and Gender Considerations.

Interested in learning more?

Check out The Health Researcher’s Toolkit: Why Sex & Gender Matter!

To produce robust and useful findings, it is critical to integrate considerations of sex and gender in health research studies.

Yet, it is not always easy to figure out how best to do this when study methods can vary so widely.

The seven modules included in this toolkit introduce key concepts, definitions, and short video lectures from research experts on integrating sex and gender into a variety of research methodologies – from secondary data analysis to concept mapping. Case studies, knowledge reviews, and short quizzes all help reinforce the described steps and strategies.

Activism and Evidence

A historical review of the ongoing struggle for equitable health care access in Canada.

Why do Sex and Gender Matter?
Definitions and their correct usage are integral to improving health services, clinical care, and research.
Case Study: Sex and Gender Disparities in Access to Care and Outcomes Related to Joint Replacement

Inclusive Sex and Gender Data Collection in Survey Research
The importance of acknowledging sex and gender diversity and designing appropriate data collection tools.

Sex-Specific Analyses and Reporting in Clinical Trials 
Appraising sex-specific group analyses in clinical trial data and the importance of reporting outcomes by sex.

Integrated Mixed Methods
Using qualitative and quantitative methods to capture the experiences of LGBTQ2S identified persons in accessing home care. 
Case Study: Surveying Challenges with LGBTQ2S Homeless Youth

Concept Mapping: Gendered Perceptions of Intimate Partner Violence
A novel method used to explore gender differences in understanding and perceptions of abusive relationships.

Beyond Sex and Gender: Making Research More Participatory for Vulnerable Populations
Examining strategies to strengthen collaborative research with vulnerable, marginalized or socially excluded communities.

the above section features content by

women’s xchange, women’s college research institute

Balance and Belonging Speaker Series

The OVDR will host 3 speakers per academic year, speaking on a range of EDI (Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) related topics. Individuals who attend all 3 (or watch on video-recorded platform), and write a self-reflection on how learnings will be incorporated into your work environment, will be eligible to apply for a Certificate of Attendance (to include with grant applications/promotions material/merit applications, etc as evidence of EDI activities).

Meet Dr. Erin Prosser-Loose

Research, Equity & Diversity Specialist, College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan

The Research Equity and Diversity Specialist supports the College in addressing EDI (equity, diversity, and inclusion) issues in research proposals, projects, teams, and the research environment as a whole. She aims to bridge gaps by promoting EDI principles and building relationships with relevant communities.

If you are in the College of Medicine and would like to connect with Dr. Prosser-Loose about making your patient-oriented health research more inclusive, reach out!

Phone: (306) 966-2621