SEX AND GENDER ACB RESEARCH
By Dr. Doris Kakuru - Associate Professor, School of Child and Youth Care, University of Victoria, BC, Canada.
This blog is an adaptation of the speaker’s remarks during the Sixth OHTN chair webinar series organized by the Collaborative Critical Research for Equity and Transformation in Health (CO-CREATH) lab.
Understanding the differences between sex and gender is an important component especially when conducting research on African, Caribbean and Black (ACB) communities. Sex generally refers to a person's physical characteristics at birth while gender encompasses a person's identities, expressions, and societal roles. Additionally, gender is described as an identity, i.e. how one identifies themselves. There are many categories (of gender) such as agender, cisgender, transgender, gender fluid and gender non-conforming among others.
In integrating sex and gender research, there are five steps that are followed which are identifying the problem, the research design, data collection, data analysis and dissemination.
When identifying the problem, a researcher is expected to write a literature review (consider different identities, norms, and relations), reflect on their own assumptions and make a decision on how sex and gender will be conceptualized in the study.
When it comes to research design, the researchers should realistically consider the potential beneficiaries of the study, minority sex and gender identities, intersectional realities and include diverse groups of participants.
The data collection methods should applied incorporate use of appropriate methods, avoid stereotyping by using gender inclusive language and perhaps generating disaggregated data. On the other hand, data collection tools include all sex and gender characteristics and intersecting factors, gender identity and birth sex, inclusive tools (add prefer not to answer category) ensure equal participation of all sexes and genders, research team diversity and relations between researchers and participants.
Data analysis should also be distinctly done by factoring variations between groups of different sexes, sources/explanations of sex differences observed, intersecting and confounding factors – such age, ethnicity and socioeconomic status. Relevant factors related to gender such as norms, identity, relations should also be considered in data analysis, as well as how do gender differences relate to
these factors, how do gender differences vary by age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status
and the intersections around it.
When disseminating results of the study, researchers should report their participants’ gender and relevant intersecting variables, their sex, how information on sex and gender identity was obtained, disaggregate data by both sex and gender, avoid over-emphasizing sex and differences and report all results.
Researchers should consider and incorporate certain factors for effective integration of sex and gender in ACB research. These include being able to describe what is known about these two topics and explain how they will be measured or investigated, use recruitment methods that mitigate bias, disaggregate and analyze results by sex and gender and develop a knowledge translation plan that effectively integrates the two concepts.