From the World Health Organization, a brief introduction to definitions and concepts. Find more.
What do we mean by "sex" and "gender"?
Sometimes it is hard to understand exactly what is meant by the term "gender", and how it differs from the closely related term "sex".
"Sex" refers to the biological and physiological characteristics that define men and women.
"Gender" refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women.
To put it another way:
"Male" and "female" are sex categories, while "masculine" and "feminine" are gender categories.
Aspects of sex will not vary substantially between different human societies, while aspects of gender may vary greatly.
Some examples of sex characteristics :
Some examples of gender characteristics :
Content produced by the World Health Organization, more found at http://www.who.int/gender/whatisgender/en/
Policy: NIH to balance sex in cell and animal studies. Link
Comment in the Journal Nature from Janine Clayton and Francis Collins on policies to ensure that preclinical research funded by the US National Institutes of Health considers females and males.
IOM Report: Exploring the Biological Contributions to Human Health: Does Sex Matter? PDF
2001 Institute of Medicine study
Sex and sensitivity: the continued need for sex-based biomedical research and implementation. PubMed Record
Tingen, C. M., Kim, A. M., Wu, P. H., & Woodruff, T. K. 2010). Sex and sensitivity: the continued need for sex-based biomedical research and implementation. Womens Health (Lond Engl), 6(4), 511-516. doi: 10.2217/whe.10.45
The Science of Sex and Gender in Human Health is a free online series of courses designed to create a foundation for sex and gender accountability in medical research and treatment by enabling researchers, clinicians, and students in the health professions to integrate knowledge of sex and gender differences and similarities into their research and practice.
Created by the Office of Research on Women’s Health, National Institutes of Health, The Office of Women’s Health, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, eligible participants who complete all lesson quizzes with a score of at least 70 percent and complete a brief evaluation form for each course may receive continuing medical education (CME) credit.