Session 60

K4 Implementing Gender Sensitive Research Methods

Gender-sensitivity is a crucial consideration in scientific research, yet it presents a paradox for many researchers. On one hand we strive to address and overcome gender bias; on the other hand we fear that explicitly highlighting differences between sexes might reproduce the bias. While there are various methodological approaches to implementing a gender-sensitive approach, it is essential that we actively work towards creating more inclusive and equitable research spaces. It is important to acknowledge that men have historically dominated research and scientific spaces, leading to the exclusion of other genders from contributing to these fields. As a result, the findings of male researchers have often been accepted as universal truths and generalized into theories and assumptions about society, without sufficient consideration of biases and the limitations of a non-gendered perspective.

In the field of health services, for instance, gender-insensitivity in medical care can be lethal, as different bodily functions across genders must be considered throughout all stages of healthcare. This includes diagnosis, drug prescription, and patient communication. Failure to do so can result in lower-quality healthcare, leading to poorer experiences and outcomes for patients. However, perceptions of gender inequalities may vary just as much as the gender inequalities themselves. These perceptions are shaped by milieu-specific belief-systems, religions, and laws, resulting in varying definitions that must be understood within their spatial and temporal distinctiveness. Several studies have shown that spatiality, space-time, and the relationality of space are perceived differently across cultures and genders. A one-size-fits-all approach cannot work, since every society and even every research field is different in its power-relationships and nature of inequalities. In most cultures, the female body, mind, and behaviour are stigmatized, mystified, tabooed. Yet, women are regulated to different degrees through the diverse social norms, politics or beliefs that exist across societies. Forms of discrimination might be subtle and overviewed, but can also be severely limiting to research participation e.g. if women are not allowed to speak for themselves. These sociological dimensions therefore must be integrated in thought and research processes as well as methods. This is why awareness and understanding of the diverse social structures regarding gender inequality must inform the design of global research.

Is it possible to overcome gender bias through research, or does research simply reproduce it? What are effective ways to incorporate gender-sensitivity into research designs? To what extent does our own positionality play into research outcomes related to gender bias? How do the methods used in research impact gender-sensitivity and potential biases? How can spatial dimensions be addressed in research on gender issues? Should we reconsider the applicability of generalized theories to other genders? How can we address the embeddedness of our definitions in their spatial and temporal distinctiveness? Implementing gender brings theoretical, methodical and methodological challenges which this session aims to discuss. Methodologically a gender-sensitive approach can be implemented in different ways. Gender might be operationalised as a dependent or independent variable, only included in the thought and reflexion processes or even as the main focus of the study. We encourage to discuss this from a spatial point of view. We welcome submission that have encountered questions of gender-sensitivity within their specific research area or their empirical fieldwork. We also encourage submissions that stimulate gender related debates within theory and methodology. We look forward to engaging in stimulating discussions and gaining insights from one another.