Gender dimension in research

Scientists, both male and female, are increasingly being urged to consider gender aspects in their research. The European Commission and national research funding agencies require the inclusion of a gender dimension in research content when relevant to the addressed issues.

Incorporating a gender dimension into Research and Development contributes to reflecting the needs, behaviors, and attitudes of both women and men. Ultimately, this leads to the production of goods or provision of services that are more suitable for the potential market and take into account the needs of all groups of end users, both male and female.

Basic information

Basic information and concepts

To assess the relevance of the gender dimension for the project, it is necessary to consider whether there may be differences in the needs or perspectives of men and women (or their groups) within the target audience of the project.

It is also appropriate to consider whether men and women may have:

Different expectations regarding the features of the shaped product or service (applications, software, medical devices, medicines, methodologies, etc.),

Different needs for content solutions or different expectations regarding the design of technology or other research products.

It is also advisable to assess whether there is a risk that specific settings of procedures or services may lead to the exclusion of certain groups from using the offered solution and the benefits derived from it.


SEX refers to the biologically determined differences between men and women. It encompasses physiological distinctions, such as variations in reproductive organs and capacities, chromosomal configurations, or hormonal systems.

Gender refers to the social differences between women and men that are learned. It pertains to what is perceived as feminine and masculine in society. Gender evolves based on the situation.

The gender dimension refers to the combination of knowledge from the field of sex influence (biological aspects) and gender (sociocultural aspects) applied in Research and Development (R&D) with the aim of generating comprehensive and excellent knowledge or technologies for the betterment of society and all its groups.

Why gender matters

Why is it important to address the gender dimension?

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There is growing evidence that knowledge or innovations often insufficiently consider potential physical differences between women and men, as well as their distinct experiences, perspectives, or needs.

Both the role of sex and gender tend to be overlooked. If research is to provide similar benefits to all, the possible impact of sex or gender on the addressed issues should be taken into account (ideally also considering the diversity of research outcome users associated with age, ethnicity, disabilities, etc.).

For example:

  • Bulletproof vests that do not account for the different shapes of men's and women's chests,
  • Innovations in urban transportation solutions based on commuting between home and work rather than convenient transport between home and children's leisure activities,
  • Language correction programs systematically labeling feminine linguistic forms as incorrect...

Why is it important to address the gender dimension in research content? 

Enhancing the quality of research and the validity of results

  • Considering the gender dimension can contribute to deepening the understanding of the addressed issues and increasing the validity of results.
  • If gender dimensions of certain issues are overlooked, the research findings may have only partial validity.

The relevance of results for different groups and their safety

  • Inadequate reflection on possible sex and gender differences can have directly harmful impacts on the overlooked group (In the USA, several drugs were withdrawn from the market as their development primarily relied on results obtained from studying male bodies and male individuals or tissues, resulting in these drugs not being equally safe for women).
  • Therefore, when applying research findings or introducing innovations, considering potential differences related to sex or gender contributes to increasing the relevance of shaped products or services for various societal groups (products that suit everyone, with usage being equally safe or enjoyable for different groups).

Broadening the user base and market potential of research and innovation results

  • By employing a gender perspective, products and services that originally catered to a narrowly defined user base can be modified. Their usage might not have been comfortable or safe enough for others, excluding them from utilizing these products.
  • Considering insights into gender or gender patterns can, therefore, enhance the quality of life for previously overlooked groups and potentially become a source of market potential.

The path to new insights, services, and products

  • For example, including animals of both sexes and a thorough reflection on the role of gender as a variable has helped develop a new treatment approach for traumatic brain injuries or understand the mechanism of development of certain autoimmune diseases.

1 Taken from TA CR guide on Gender dimension in research

When is gender relevant

When is it relevant to consider the gender dimension?

Considering the gender perspective may not be relevant for every project.

However, it becomes a mandatory requirement in the entire Horizon Europe program. Therefore, submitted projects will be obliged to assess whether the research topic may affect women and men differently or have varying impacts on them. National grant agencies (such as GA CR, TA CR) are gradually adopting this requirement as well.

Reflection on possible physical differences (sex) or differences in experiences, perspectives, and needs of women and men (gender) makes sense whenever people are: 1

Some research topics, especially in natural sciences, technologies, engineering, and mathematics, may initially appear gender-neutral. Therefore, it is recommended to use specific questions that are no longer gender-neutral: 2

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1 Taken over from TA CR guide on Gender dimension in research

2 Taken over from MEYS guide on How to reflect gender dimension in research, development and innovations

How to incorporate gender into a project

How to incorporate gender into a project

The following questions can provide guidance: 1


    • Can physical differences between women and men (such as hormonal production, ergonomics, manipulation strength, body size or its parts, voice pitch, etc.) enter into the addressed topic, along with their distinct experiences, needs, and preferences?
    • Is it feasible to consider different outcomes for women and men in the context of the issue at hand?
    • Can distinct impacts be expected for women and men, or their respective groups?

    • Will the design and tools (such as questionnaires, focus groups, etc.) allow capturing potential sex or gender differences, or conversely, confirming the absence of differences?
    • Will data be collected for both genders, or will members of both genders be interviewed, in appropriate proportions?

    • Are the data analyzed with consideration for sex or gender?
    • Is the relationship between sex or gender and other relevant variables, such as age, social background, ethnicity, analyzed?

    • If the final product or service, not specifically targeting individuals of one gender, will it meet the needs of both men and women?
    • Will it, in terms of content, features, or design, align with the expectations of both men and women, or their diverse groups?
    • Will the resulting product or service be similarly safe for men and women (e.g., drug development, safety features, food components, etc.)?
    • Will the positive effects of the project similarly impact the quality of life for both men and women (e.g., transportation planning, urban development, public services, etc.)?
    • Will the planned product or service be equally accessible to men and women (or other groups)?

    • As part of the analysis, are relevant conclusions related to sex or gender dimensions of the issue presented?
    • Are null differences also reported?
    • Does the presentation include relevant statistics, tables, or graphs distinguishing data by gender?
    • Has there been consideration given to creating a specific publication presenting the sex or gender dimension of the issue, conference contributions, etc.?

Checklist available for download

Taken from TA CR guide on Gender dimension in research 

Biomedical sciences

Gender in biomedical sciences 1

  • Every cell in the human body has a sex, a key indicator for diseases, treatments, and medications.
  • In medicine, there is a longstanding tendency to underestimate sex and gender differences, with the assumption that men represent the entire population.
  • Women and females have been systematically excluded from clinical studies, creating a significant gap in data and leading to incorrect diagnosis and treatment.
  • Other societal variables, such as race, economic income, and sexual orientation, are often overlooked in medical practice, contributing to errors in healthcare.

Examples of how sex and gender influence medical sciences include:

Different symptoms

Women and men often experience different symptoms for the same diseases. One example of such a condition is a heart attack, commonly associated with acute chest or arm pain, symptoms that are prevalent in men. However, in women, heart attacks often manifest with less intense symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, or jaw pain. As a result, women face a 50% higher risk of misdiagnosed heart attacks compared to men (Criado Perez, 2019).

Perception of pain

The pain threshold in women is generally lower than in men, but women can endure pain for a longer duration (Witchalls, 2014). They also express their pain more openly than men, which leads to the prescription of sedatives (overall pain relief medications) rather than analgesics (pain-relieving medications) in smaller doses compared to men (Acad Emerg Med, 2008). This is due to the medical practice that analgesics should be administered more conservatively to those who openly express their pain and more liberally to those who endure it more stoically.

Clinical studies

The overwhelming majority of animals used in medical research and clinical studies are males (Shansky, 2019). The exclusion of females from laboratories is based on the assumption that hormones like estrogen could disrupt experimental results. The origin of this hypothesis dates back to the 19th century, and even though it has been successfully debunked, it still persists in scientific practice (Cara, 2019). As a consequence, there is a higher incidence of adverse drug reactions in women compared to men, stemming from the absence of females in clinical drug testing.

Important statistics

  • Women face a 50% higher risk of misdiagnosed heart attacks than men (BHD, n.d.)
  • 40% of American first- and second-year medical students believe that the Black population has thicker skin or less sensitive nerve endings than the White population (Sabin, 2020)
  • The diagnosis of endometriosis takes approximately nine years (Clare, 2020)
  • The diagnosis of autoimmune diseases, which affect 75% women, takes around five years (Treacy, 2020)
  • 12% of transgender individuals and 6% of homosexual individuals reported being denied medical care by healthcare professionals due to their gender identity or sexual orientation (Ahmed Mirza & Rooney, 2018)

How to achieve fairer medicine?

  • Educate medical students on gender, racial, and other biases
  • Strive for gender balance in research teams
  • Include experts on gender studies in the relevant research areas
  • Establish the analysis of sex and gender as a fundamental requirement for evaluating research in animal and clinical studies
  • Ensure data are disaggregated by social variables

1 Taken over from NKC - gender a věda


Documents and sources of information

Interesting links

In English

In Czech

Online course

The Sex and Gender Dimesnion in Biomedical Research

  • researchers will gain an overview of how to incorporate the gender dimension into their research by completing the course  
  • it consists of three modules: 1) Introduction to the issues of sex and gender in research; 2) How to integrate gender analysis into research; 3) Case studies,
  • and it is taught online
  • available for free after registration ( or
Documents available for download

Leaflet Poster Checklist

The Grant Office of the Faculty of Medicine
Kamenice 126/3, 625 00 Brno, budova F37

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