In the Summer of 2021, an international team of early career researchers won the ZonMw/CIHR-IGH Gender in Research Award. It allowed the team to bring their innovative idea for supporting health researchers in integrating sex and gender in research to life. Now they proudly present The Genderful Research World (GRW), an interactive online platform designed for health researchers to easily access resources related to integrating a sex- and gender-perspective in their work. The GRW is set up as a map of a landscape describing the various stages of the research process, to provide a playful and fun setting in which to explore various resources. We asked the team about the platform.
The GRW platform is designed for health researchers at any stage of training or career. We have specifically selected existing best practice resources that would be of interest and relevance to those who are new to exploring the integration of sex and gender into their research work, as well as for more seasoned sex and gender researchers. The resources are tailored for biomedical (fundamental research) and medical/health scientist (clinical and public health research) research phases.
In considering what problem we wanted to tackle when it came to sharing information about sex and gender with the health research community, it was immediately clear to us that the problem was not the availability of good resources. On the contrary, there are many fantastic, evidence-based, well-designed resources out there but they remain underutilized because they are often difficult to find and lack interactivity. We wanted to eliminate the need for health researchers to comb through many webpages to find the resources that fit their current needs in a fun and interactive way, as well as providing a trusted hub for them to return to in the future.
By winning the ZonMw Gender in Research award, we got the chance to realize this idea from paper to prototype. This platform was intended to house a repository of resources, but also to make the process of locating these resources fun, playful, and easy to navigate. We expected the GRW to stick in researcher’s memory and keep them coming back. It was great to see our expectations confirmed by the results our feasibility study, where most health scientist mentioned to come back to the GRW for teaching, research and writing proposals/grants.
Integrating a sex and gender perspective in research is important to ensure high-quality, rigourous research. We know enough about the differences biologically between sexes, as well as the sociocultural influences of gender, to know that a 'gender-blind' approach of ignoring sex and gender in research causes inaccurate results and inequitable care. It is a research quality issue, but also a social justice issue.
Postdoctoral research fellow and registered psychologist at the Department of Pediatrics, University of British Columbia, in Vancouver, Canada.
‘I wanted to develop this platform as I have suffered from the same challenge so many researchers have - finding the right resources when you need them! Instead of spending hours searching or saving helpful resources where you'll never find them again, the Genderful Research World offers everything you need for all stages of the research process in one fun, interactive place. I also strongly believe that sex- and gendersensitive research is critical to good, equitable science and healthcare, and am proud to be part of efforts to promote that.’
Health scientist and a doctoral researcher at the Department of Primary and Community Care and the Department of Neurology; Center of Expertise for Parkinson & Movement Disorders, Radboudumc, in Nijmegen, the Netherlands.
‘While there are many valuable resources regarding the integration available, finding those that are relevant for the research phase you are currently in might be an overwhelming exercise for health researchers novel to the concepts of sex and gender. With the GRW we aimed to provide a curated selection of resources relevant for each key research phase as a starting point. To learn; to share; to inspire.’
PhD researcher in health sciences at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam & National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
‘I have a personal passion for equity in health and gained extensive knowledge on sex and gender in health research during my PhD research. I wanted to share this knowledge with other researchers in a fun and easy way, to stimulate this much needed approach in health research.’
Resident and clinical researcher, finalizing her doctoral degree at the Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Erasmus MC, in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
‘Although we can’t ignore it in the clinic anymore in this time of personalized medicine, in my research field there is not yet sufficient knowledge and implementation of sex and gender differences. This has motivated me to dive into this topic and inspire others: our Genderful Research World appears to be accessible and fun!’
Biomedical scientist pursuing her doctoral degree at the Experimental Rheumatology Department, Radboudumc, in Nijmegen, the Netherlands.
‘From my own experience as biomedical researcher trying to include sex into my research, I was initially unaware of so much resources that are already available regarding the integration of sex and gender. I therefore wanted to develop the Genderful Research World to make it easier to find the right resources, but also to (try to) "educate" other preclinical researches.’