First steps for integrating sex and gender considerations into basic experimental biomedical research
ing recognition of the need to account for sex and gender in biology and medicine, in order to develop a more compre- hensive understanding of biological phenomena and to address gaps in medical knowledge that have arisen due to a generally masculine bias in research. We have noted that as basic experimental biomedical researchers, we face unique challenges to the incorporation of sex and gender in our work, and that these have remained largely unarticulated, misunderstood, and unaddressed in the literature. Here, we describe some of the specific challenges to the incorporation of sex and gender considerations in research involving cell cultures and laboratory animals. In our view, the main- streaming of sex and gender considerations in basic biomed- ical research depends on an approach that will allow scien- tists to address these issues in ways that do not undermine our ability to pursue our fundamental scientific interests. To that end, we suggest a number of strategies that allow basic experimental researchers to feasibly and meaningfully take sex and gender into account in their work. Compared to other fields, the experimental biomedical sciences have been slow to take up s/g considerations. Our objective in this article has been to articulate the challenges of addressing s/g issues in laboratory-based research, and to identify ways of acknowledging their relevance in the face of the realities of experimental science, which create real limitations on what we are able to do, both practically and conceptually. We believe the basic toolbox we have offered demonstrates that there are ways to meaningfully take s/g into account without diverting focus from our primary sci- entific interests, and without slipping into the traps of simplistic determinism or overemphasizing difference. We have deliberately taken this first-steps approach in order to be useful to a broad swath of researchers who otherwise might not consider s/g at all.