Factoring gender into innovation for better outcomes

Author:Eleanor Khonje
Position:Freelance writer
SUMMARY

Heart disease is a leading cause of death among women in the United States and Europe. Yet for many years it was considered a male condition, and clinical research focused almost exclusively on the functional changes that occur in male patients. As a consequence, many women were wrongly diagnosed.

 
FREE EXCERPT

Similarly, osteoporosis is considered a predominantly female condition. Men are rarely evaluated or treated for it. But after age 75, men suffer nearly one-third of hip fractures related to the condition in the United States and Europe.

These examples illustrate why it is important for scientists, engineers and other researchers to factor sex and gender – and the differential impact that research may have on both women and men – into their research protocols and development work.

WIPO Magazine recently sat down with Professor Londa Schiebinger, John L. Hinds Professor of History of Science and Director of Gendered Innovations in Science, Health and Medicine, Engineering and Environment at Stanford University in the United States, to find out more about why sex and gender need to be taken seriously by researchers, engineers and inventors.

What prompted you to start the Gendered Innovations project?

I have always been interested in the role that gender plays in the cultural production of knowledge. And I wanted to develop a practical tool that demonstrates that by integrating sex and gender analysis into scientific, medical and environmental research, you create new knowledge and bring about positive change. Gendered Innovations is all about discovery and innovation, and focuses on improving research and making it more inclusive.

Gender in a nutshell

Gender is all about what is means to be a man and what it means to be a woman or a gender-diverse person. It explores how men and women experience life differently, not because of biology but because of the social and cultural meanings developed around each. For decades, feminist research has underlined the need to evaluate the influence of gender in order to effectively tackle development challenges and promote inclusive development – and with some success. Today, gender equality is one of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and is increasingly accepted as an important and necessary objective.

Tell us more about the project.

Gendered Innovations is an analytical framework developed by an international collaboration of experts including over 80 scientists, humanists and gender experts. Its aim is to demonstrate how we can harness the creative power of sex and gender analysis for innovation and discovery. Gender analysis adds a valuable dimension to research and can take it in new directions. It generates valuable insights and outcomes for women and men.

The project develops...

To continue reading

REQUEST YOUR TRIAL