Traditionally epidemiology distinguishes between two sexes for the analysis of health status. However, there is a growing recognition that this approach does not take into account the realities and pluralities of male, female and additional types of gender identities and contributes to reinforcing the status quo of restrictive sex-based analysis by failing to address gender-based health inequalities.
Modern gender epidemiology, by contrast, would fully take into account gender as a social construct. The term ‘sex’ describes the biological construct of anatomical, physiological, genetic and hormonal characteristics of human beings. In contrast to sex, gender is a combination of socially and culturally determined characteristics or “identities”. It is made up of the behaviours, roles, expectations, opportunities and responsibilities that individuals experience throughout their lives in societies. As such, it is also a reflection of relations to others, and of the power (or disadvantages) that falls upon individuals.
The main channels through which gender influences health status, independently and in relation to sex are the following:
Within GendEpi we aim to draw from sociological gender concepts to develop a framework of analysis for gender-sensitive epidemiology, as well as a methodological toolkit for the advancement of quantitative and mixed-methods analysis in that area.