The applicant is required to include explicit definitions of sex and gender as they relate to aspects of their research study and to clearly outline the relevance to their research topic. Notice that IGAR is relevant in most research fields, and should always be considered when humans are involved directly or indirectly. That is, when humans are the object of research, IGAR is obviously relevant given the sex and gender differences in their bodies, behaviours, social constraints, etc. But even in cases where humans are not directly involved, for instance, in technological research, men and women (as potential users, customers, citizens, workers, etc.) can also be affected differently by the results of the study. The exception are the few cases where the application of the results may not affect human beings (in)directly1. And of course, sex-based analysis is highly relevant in biomedical research on cells, tissues and animals – while certain animal studies have started to consider gender as playing a part in animal behaviour (e.g. social interactions)2.
As part of the literature review the applicant is asked to cite prior studies that highlight significant similarities and/or differences between men and women (or female/male animals, tissues and cells) and to apply their findings to their research design.
Research Questions and Hypothesis:
The applicant is expected to include a systematic analysis and assessment of the state of knowledge about sex and gender and to highlight how their findings could apply to their research topic.
To ensure that the research sample (participants, users, customers…) appropriately captures sex and gender based factors, including other intersecting variables (age, ethnicity, disability, religion, sexual orientation etc.), the proposal has to include proportional representation of men/boys and women/girls (or female/male animals, tissues and cells), where relevant.
In cases where the research could impact men and/or women similarly or differently, the applicant needs to apply an ethical sex and gender lens3 across the research cycle - from design to dissemination.
Dissemination/ Knowledge Translation:
A key component of the research cycle is the effective dissemination and knowledge translation of the research outcomes. Sex and gender considerations are also critical at this stage. The research findings have to be effectively disseminated and knowledge translated to ensure appropriate application to the specific needs of men and/or women.
- 1. However, it should be noted that if IGAR is not relevant in certain research studies, that does not mean nothing should be done regarding contents. Even in this kind of research, the way results are disseminated or published might be gender-biased, e.g. with the pictures shown, with the examples or metaphors given, with the language used.
- 2. See for example: “Vocal negotiation over parental care? Partners adjust their time spent incubating based on their acoustic communication at the nest”, Ingrid C.A Boucaud, Mylene M. Mariette, Avelyne S. Villain and Clémentine Vignal. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, Volume 117, Issue 2, pages 322–336, February 2016; Active males, reactive females: stereotypic sex roles in sexual conflict research? Karlsson Green, K. & Madjidian, J. A. Animal Behaviour, Volume 81, Issue 5, p. 901-907, May 2011.
- 3. E.g., ethical issues concerning the inclusion/exclusion of (pregnant) women in clinical trials. See for instance the Verina Wild (2012) paper on How are pregnant women vulnerable research participants?, and the one by Jyotsna Agnihotri Gupta (2011) on Ethical issues and challenges in bioethics education from a gender perspective.