Relevance of Sex, Gender and Diversity in Research
In some research projects, taking sex, gender and diversity dimensions into account can prevent 'blind spots' and thus enhance the scientific quality of the results. Reflection on sex, gender and diversity (the latter also sometimes referred to as ‘intersectionality’) should therefore be part of the preparation stage for every project and, where relevant, discussed in the proposal.
Sex, gender and diversity are not of equal relevance in all projects. The importance of these dimensions will vary depending on the research context, topic and methods.
Humanities and Social Sciences
Examples of sex, gender and diversity in the humanities and social sciences. Interner Linkmore
Why sex, gender and diversity could be relevant in the engineering sciences. Interner Linkmore
Are sex, gender and diversity relevant in the natural sciences? Interner Linkmore
What does the DFG mean by…
The word gender refers to sociocultural attributions of traits, roles, behaviours and expectations of the sexes. These attributions may vary by society, country, culture, values and individual understanding.
Diversity as a criterion in the context of DFG proposals includes – beyond gender – dimensions in which people differ, for example age, religion, ethnicity, sexual identity, culture, health condition, life situation or social status.
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Taking into account sex and gender or the 'sex and gender dimension' and diversity or the 'diversity dimension' in research can, where relevant, concretely impact the planning, implementation and results of a research project. Sex, gender and/or diversity may be reflected in the choice of methods and categories of analysis; these factors can impact the generation of datasets and hypotheses.
Variety in the sex and gender and/or diversity dimension may be relevant to research projects in various ways, for example in terms of the participating researchers, the animals to be studied, or the human or animal samples to be studied.
By using the checklist provided by the DFG during the project planning stage, applicants can examine whether the sex, gender and/or diversity dimensions are relevant to their research project.
All researchers have different perspectives, skills, backgrounds, experiences, etc.
Researchers always strive to be as objective as possible in their research in order to achieve research results that are as objective as possible. In some disciplines, however, there are examples of ways in which a researcher's sex and gender or other diversity dimensions can be relevant, with implications for the research result.
In the humanities and social sciences, reflecting on expectations, biases, interaction with the individuals being studied, and many other aspects is often an integral part of critical source evaluation. In the discipline-specific information on this page, you can read about a specific example in the field of ethnology that demonstrates the effects of the social role of the researcher.
Another example of the effects of the biological sex of the researcher is known from the life sciences: In one study it was observed that rats and mice showed reduced reactions in pain research when experiments were performed by male researchers – while tests performed by female researchers or not in the presence of researchers produced uniform reactions. This 'male observer effect' was attributed to the different naturally produced smells associated with the sex of the researcher, which influenced the actual research result.
- Interner Link mit AnkerChild fostering in the context of ethnic heterogeneity (Borgu/Republic of Benin)
- Externer LinkGendered Innovations, Animal Research 2: Analyzing How Sex and Gender Interact
In most research projects, the sex, gender or diversity of the researchers will play a minor role or be of no relevance. In such cases, there is no need to provide details in the relevant section of the proposal.
Additional information on the relevance of sex, gender and diversity in research is available through the external links below:
- Externer LinkGendered Innovations
- Externer LinkCanadian Institute of Gender and Health (with Webinar)
- European Commission, Externer LinkFor a better integration of the gender dimension in Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2016-2017 (Advice paper, 2015)
- US National Institutes of Health, Externer LinkInclusion of Women and Minorities as Participants in Research
- GenderNet, Externer LinkIGAR TOOL
- Tannenbaum, C., Ellis, R.P., Eyssel, F. et al. Sex and gender analysis improves science and engineering. Nature 575, 137–146 (2019). Externer Linkhttps://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-019-1657-6