Enhance integration of sex and gender considerations throughout all research processes and products of Diabetes Action Canada.

Build capacity of the Diabetes Action Canada research team members to integrate sex and gender in their research activities.

We work to achieve these objectives through our Facilitator Model: Research programs designate one member to be the main contact for communication with the Sex and Gender Program. This facilitator ensures sex and gender stays on the agenda in all respective projects and activities.

Sex and Gender Considerations in Diabetes Research

Co-leads: Paula Rochon, Robin Mason

Co-Investigators: Paula Harvey

Project Coordinator: Amy Clare

What are SEX and GENDER

Sex and gender are two distinct concepts.

Sex refers to individuals’ biological attributes. An individual is defined as male, or female, depending upon their genetics, physiology, and anatomy. Other defining characteristics include chromosomes and hormone levels.

Gender is a fluid concept that can change over time and is influenced by social and cultural norms, as well as one’s environment and history. Gender refers to the constructed roles, behaviours, and identities of men, women, and gender-diverse people. Gender impacts the commonly accepted ways of being, individual’s behavior, and how one may perceive themselves.

It is critical that researchers take into consideration sex and gender when designing their research as these two concepts strongly impact an individual’s life. Often scientists neglect considerations of sex and gender in their research, inadequately incorporate these concepts into research designs or misuse terminology. For example:

  • Clinical trials looking at biological differences will conflate sex terms (i.e. men and women) with gender terms (i.e. males and females)

The Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR), has signed onto the Federal Government’s Health Portfolio’s Sex and Gender-Based Analysis Policy. This funding body has implemented a requirement that all grant applicants integrate sex and gender into their study designs.

The Sex and Gender Research Support Service

Women’s Xchange can provide expert advice on the integration of sex and gender into Diabetes Action Canada research proposals, projects, and products. Through our Sex and Gender Research Support Service (SGRSS), members of our team can review and provide feedback on grant proposals prior to submission. Once a project is funded, we can provide ongoing support or consults as needed on specific deliverables. Research teams will need to incorporate in their proposed budget, funds to cover the service costs of the SGRSS. Further information can be found here.

Sex and Gender Integration: THE ESSENTIAL METRICS

Through an iterative three-stage process, our team created a set of metrics – The Essential Metrics for Assessing Sex & Gender Integration in Health Research Proposals Involving Human Participants – to aid both researchers developing proposals and those reviewing proposals, assess the quality of sex and gender integration.


  • Relevance of sex and gender differ depending on the project (more focused on biological or sociocultural factors?)
  • Metrics are equally useful in study proposals that focus on both sex and gender, or either sex or gender
  • Not all elements of the metrics are applicable to all research studies/designs
  • The term sex/gender in the metrics is used as shorthand for “and/or” depending on applicability in study under review

Our metrics have been embraced by central funding bodies like the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR)’s College of Reviewers, as well as the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s Health System Research Fund.

To download a copy of the metrics please click here.

Sex and Gender Integration: RESOURCES

Women’s Xchange Resource Library:

  • Collection of 50+ resources (guidelines, manuals, websites etc.) for sex and gender based analysis – click here

Videos from projects in the field of diabetes funded by Women’s Xchange:

The Health Researchers Toolkit: WHY SEX AND GENDER MATTER

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.

To view these modules click here.

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