Embedding Sex & Gender Analysis into the Curriculum

Universities need to step up and incorporate sex and gender analysis as conceptual tools into the core curriculum of natural science, health & medicine, engineering, and environmental science. Universities must do more to prepare the scientific workforce for the future. Here’s how.

Computer Science

Sex and gender analysis integrated core computer science courses: Harvard University has pioneered an Embedded EthiCS course—in response to student demand—that integrates ethical issues into the core computer science curriculum. Sex, gender, and ethnic analysis can also be included. Watch the 4 minute video; see the course modules; read the article: Grosz, B. J., Grant, D. G., Vredenburgh, K., Behrends, J., Hu, L., Simmons, A., & Waldo, J. (2019). Embedded EthiCS: integrating ethics across CS education. Communications of the ACM, 62(8), 54-61.

Integrating sex and gender analysis into technical courses is preferable to stand-alone courses. Universities have plenty of stand-alone courses on sex and gender analysis, such as mine on Gendered Innovations, in the humanities, social sciences. Some even have dedicated ethics courses in computer science. These courses are typically electives, and students can graduate without ever having taken one. The solution is to integrate sex & gender analysis into core computer science courses. Stanford University has expanded its CS curriculum to included Embedded EthiCS.

Health & Medicine

Sex and gender findings and analytical methods need to be integrated throughout medical training from early basic science to later clinical modules. It is critical to teach the next generation of physicians and researchers the current findings in sex- and gender-based medicine, where the gaps in knowledge exist, and how to integrate sex and gender analysis into their own research.

1. Yale Medical School found that only 25% of all class sessions raised the topic of sex and/or gender, and that only 8% included an in-depth discussion. Thande, N. K., Wang, M., Curlin, K., Dalvie, N., & Mazure, C. M. (2019). The influence of sex and gender on health: how much is being taught in medical school curricula? Journal of Women's Health, 28(12), 1748-1754.

2. The Charité in Berlin, Germany, is one of the few medical schools that has successfully integrated sex and gender analysis throughout all six years of medical training. Ludwig, S., Oertelt-Prigione, S., Kurmeyer, C., Gross, M., Grüters-Kieslich, A., Regitz-Zagrosek, V., & Peters, H. (2015). A successful strategy to integrate sex and gender medicine into a newly developed medical curriculum. Journal of Women's Health, 24(12), 996-1005.

3. Sex and gender findings should be a mandatory part of national medical exams. Schluchter, H., Nauman, A. T., Ludwig, S., Regitz-Zagrosek, V., & Seeland, U. (2020). Quantitative and qualitative analysis on sex and gender in preparatory material for national medical examination in Germany and the United States. Journal of Medical Education and Curricular Development, 7, 2382120519894253.

4. Sex and Gender Health Education Summits have been held since 2015. These summits bring together medical educators from over 100 medical schools to work toward integrating sex and gender findings into the medical curriculum. Few have been successful.

Training Courses

Until sex and gender is integrated into the medical school curriculum, supplemental training courses are available.

1. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research offer three online training modules for integrating sex and gender in biomedical research; primary data collection with humans; and the analysis of data from human participants.

2. Switzerland is sponsoring a CAS in Gender Medicine beginning March 2021. This course includes 11 modules, ranging from cardiovascular medicine to infectious disease, research and methods for primary care. Click here for the program.

3. The US National Institutes of Health offer a video by Dr. Chloe Bird on Methods & Techniques for Integrating Sex into Research: Advancing Understanding of Sex & Gender Influences on Health & Disease (22 minutes).


Further Reading:

Clever, K., Richter, C., & Meyer, G. (2020). Current approaches to the integration of sex-and gender-specific medicine in teaching: A qualitative expert survey. GMS Journal for Medical Education, 37(2), 1-7.

Libby, A. M., McGinnes, H. G., & Regensteiner, J. G. (2020). Educating the scientific workforce on sex and gender considerations in research: A national scan of the literature and building interdisciplinary research careers in women's health programs. Journal of Women's Health, 1-9.

Ludwig, S., Gruber, C., Ehlers, J. P., & Ramspott, S. (2020). Diversity in medical education. GMS Journal for Medical Education, 37(2), 1-3.

Regensteiner, J. G., Libby, A., Begg, L., Ghim, M., & Clayton, J. A. (2020). Sex as a biological variable: The importance of curriculum development in the 21st Century. Journal of Women's Health, 1-4.



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