When is sex-specific research appropriate?

Wendy A. Rogers, Angela Ballantyne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Inclusion in research is a question of both scientific validity of research results and just distribution of the benefits of medical research within a community. Therefore, inappropriate exclusions from research can be regulated as a matter of science or a matter of ethics. In this paper we examine the definitions of appropriate/fair inclusion in the Australian and U.S. regulatory systems and discuss the processes for interpreting and implementing these normative standards. In the second part of the paper, we present original results from the first study of sex-specific research in Australia. One hundred and thirteen published papers were examined: 35 percent were classified as inappropriate sex-specific research, where exclusion was not biologically necessary, and/or there was no justification for the exclusion of one sex. Our results indicate that a scientific approach to inclusion, rather than one grounded in ethical review, is likely to be more effective in achieving appropriate sex-specific research. In the absence of effective regulation, we will continue to see research that discriminates unfairly and perpetuates gender stereotyping.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-57
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


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