Sex and gender in science

How to navigate a challenging area of research to the benefit of all

Stylistic illustration showing the male and female chromosomes.

Credit: Sophi Gullbrants

Credit: Sophi Gullbrants

Fraught societal debates, particularly surrounding gender identity, are raising questions about how to best take sex and gender into account in research, both in studies of human health and in other contexts. At the same time, scientists are increasingly recognizing that they must move past assumptions that findings from mainly male individuals will apply to everyone.

The articles in this special collection, with contributors who work in fields such as neuroscience, psychology, immunology, cancer and global health, explore the value of considering sex and gender in research, as well as the perils and pitfalls. They explain why progress in this long-neglected area of research is crucial — and consider how differences between individuals can be explored responsibly, inclusively and for the benefit of as many people as possible.

Editorial: Why it’s essential to study sex and gender, even as tensions rise

Podcast: Sex and gender discussions don’t need to be toxic

Latest articles


Beyond the trans/cis binary: introducing new terms will enrich gender research

We need terms such as ‘gender modality’ that are flexible enough to capture the nuances of human experience but pragmatic enough to serve science.


Heed lessons from past studies involving transgender people: first, do no harm

Decades of neuroscientific work have focused on exploring a biological basis for transgender identity — but researchers must take societal factors into account.


Neglecting sex and gender in research is a public-health risk

The data are clear: taking sex and gender into account in research and using that knowledge to change health care could benefit billions of people.


We need more-nuanced approaches to exploring sex and gender in research

Some scientists are reluctant to investigate questions about sex and gender, particularly given today’s sociopolitical tensions around gender identity. But they should lean in and embrace the complexity.


Male–female comparisons are powerful in biomedical research

Binary sex studies have been denounced as too simplistic — but abandoning them altogether would impede progress in a long-neglected area of biomedicine.

Related articles


Why it’s essential to study sex and gender, even as tensions rise

Some scholars are avoiding researching sex and gender out of fear that their studies will be misused in the culture war. Nature’s new series is intended to lessen that fear and encourage scientists to dive in.


Sex and gender discussions don’t need to be toxic

The science of sex and gender is too often misinterpreted and weaponized. Now, three experts cut through the misinformation in search of a positive future for this long-neglected area of research.


Nature journals raise the bar on sex and gender reporting in research

Authors will be prompted to provide details on how sex and gender were considered in study design.


Accounting for sex and gender makes for better science

The European Commission is set to insist on steps that will make research design more inclusive.


Women’s health research lacks funding – these charts show how

Conditions that affect women more than men garner less funding. But boosting investment could reap big rewards


Sex and gender analysis improves science and engineering

How sex and gender analysis can foster scientific discovery, improve experimental efficiency and enable social equality.


The fraught quest to account for sex in biology research

Funders and publishers are increasingly asking researchers to account for the role of sex in experiments — a requirement that’s contentious and hard to get right.


Let’s talk about (biological) sex

You spent years investigating your beloved protein. You generated mouse models, found a phenotype and fixed it with a drug. You even used human cells to reveal a conserved mechanism. But a prestigious journal has rejected your manuscript because you did not include females. Here is why you should not be mad at them.


Sex differences in cancer

A special collection in Nature Reviews Cancer reveals mechanistic insights into the genetic, epigenetic, hormonal, immune and metabolic determinants of sex disparities in cancer susceptibility as well as treatment response, and showcases the need for achieving sex-directed cancer care.


Online images amplify gender bias

Gender bias is more prevalent in images than text, the under-representation of women online is substantially worse in images and googling for images amplifies gender bias in a person’s beliefs.


The largest study involving transgender people is providing long-sought insights about their health

The research examines once taboo questions about the impacts of gender transition.

Springer Nature © 2024 Springer Nature Limited. All rights reserved.