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Wellbeing of Women supports the integration of sex and gender considerations in UK biomedical, health and care research

Three women researchers working together and talking in a laboratory setting

High-quality, reproducible and inclusive biomedical, health and care research requires consideration of sex and gender at every stage, from study design and recruitment to data analysis and transparent reporting of results. Unlike other high-income countries – notably Canada, the United States and European nations under Horizon Europe – the UK currently has no standard, unified guidance for researchers about how adequately to consider sex dimensions in cell and animal studies, and sex and gender dimensions in human studies. 

Women make up 51% of the population, yet women’s health has not been prioritised." Janet Lindsay CEO, Wellbeing of Women

For this reason, we are working with the MESSAGE initiative to co-design a sex and gender policy which will be available from 2024. Culture change in this space will ensure the UK cements its position as a world leader in rigorous, sustainable science and provides the most effective evidence to improve outcomes for patients and society.

Janet Lindsay, Chief Executive of Wellbeing of Women said, “Women make up 51% of the population, yet women’s health has not been prioritised, we exist within a health and care system that was designed by men for men. As a result, despite living longer than men on average, women spend significantly longer proportion of their lives in ill health and disability compared with men. The current ‘male’ as default set up can be seen across medical research, healthcare practice, and policy. 

If we are to achieve health equity for all, then sex and gender must be the first consideration when designing and conducting research. From animal testing through to clinical trials and in tracking long term health outcomes, we must understand how conditions that affect both males and females may impact differently, as well as closing the evidence gap related to conditions specific to women such as endometriosis and menopause. In doing this, we create benefit for everyone in society.”