Sex and Gender Champions

In 2014, CIHR began requiring the inclusion of Sex and Gender Champions on research teams on some funding initiatives.

What is a Sex and Gender Champion?

A Sex and Gender Champion is a researcher who possesses or acquires expertise in the study of sex as a biological variable and/or gender as a social determinant of health. For funding opportunities, Sex and Gender Champions are identified and selected by the team in their application. Sex and Gender Champions demonstrate or acquire expertise by a history of sex and gender publications and/or training (e.g. research training and/or completion of CIHR Institute of Gender and Health training modules), and through the rigour in which sex and/or gender considerations are integrated throughout the proposal.

Their role is to ensure that sex and/or gender considerations are integrated into every step of the research project, as appropriate, including project rationale, experimental design, methods, analysis and knowledge translation. The Champion supports the research team to produce rigorous, transparent and generalizable research findings through the consideration of sex and gender factors throughout the research process. The Champion may also provide clear direction on the extent to which research findings apply across sex and gender subgroups. CIHR may also call upon Champions to act as sex and gender experts on peer review committees.

Sex and Gender Champion Virtual Community of Practice

In 2016, a number of Sex and Gender Champions from CIHR-funded teams came together to create a Community of Practice. This group meets virtually to share lessons learned and best practices for integrating Sex and Gender Champions into team grants and to discuss the latest innovations in sex, gender and health research. Lean more.

If you’re interested in joining our Sex and Gender Champion Community of Practice, email the Institute of Gender and Health for more information.

Best practices for including a Sex and Gender Champion

The best practices below have been identified by existing Sex and Gender Champions. These tips will ensure that both champions and research teams benefit fully from the role.

  1. The roles of the champion are clearly articulated in the research proposal.
  2. The specific tasks that the champion will perform are defined.
  3. The champions have dedicated and specified resources to execute their defined roles, such as course relief for protected time, administrative assistance and/or trainees to support their work for the team.
  4. Where the champion is not a principal or co-investigator, they are clearly integrated in the leadership or administrative structure of the project to ensure they have meaningful engagement.
  5. The champion is recognized through authorship in publications and presentations when relevant contributions are made.

Roles for Sex and Gender Champions in collaborative research groups

The champion can take on roles as an educator, mentor, consultant, facilitator, advocate, co-investigator or principal applicant. In each role, champions are responsible for promoting and integrating sex and gender considerations throughout the lifetime of the research project.

The list below provides examples of the types of activities champions may engage in on the research team. This list is not exhaustive or prescriptive; rather, it is intended to provide guidance for the inclusion of champions in research teams:  

Overall support for learning

  1. Provide overall support on sex and gender considerations throughout every stage of the research project, from inception to dissemination of final results.
  2. Facilitate discussion of the sex and gender issues in the field of study, including providing resources on historical inclusion of sex and gender and sharing new findings and innovations.
  3. Provide sex and gender resources (such as a toolbox of strategies for advancing sex and/or gender inclusion and for responding to resistance to integration of sex and gender considerations).
  4. Provide training for team researchers and trainees on sex and gender theories, methods and reporting guidelines. Provide advice on filling out CIHR application sections on sex and gender.
  5. Help develop, evaluate and reflect on advancement of sex and gender equity in training, mentorship and funding of current and future scientists.

Proposal development

  1. Advocate for gender parity and inclusion among research teams and stakeholders.
  2. Help set priority research questions in sex and gender.
  3. Identify potential for sex and gender bias in study outcome measures.
  4. Consult with researchers to include sex and gender in research design, methodology and analysis, including how sex and gender will be measured /analyzed.
  5. Act as (co) applicant on primary or secondary funding applications for grants to operationalize explicit consideration of sex and gender.
  6. Inform budget considerations from sex and gender perspective, e.g. inclusion of child care costs to support participation.

Research implementation

  1. Ensure recruitment and data collection are conducted in a way that is inclusive and ethical according to the principles of sex- and gender-based analysis.
  2. Lead/support the conducting of primary or secondary analysis for sex and gender research questions.

Knowledge translation

  1. Lead/support the development of an approach for considerations of sex and gender in knowledge translation activities.
  2. Lead/support the presentation of sex and gender issues when reporting scientific results to media.
  3. Act as an advocate on sex/gender issues in general knowledge translation activities, e.g. advocate for the evaluation of the integration of sex and gender as part of manuscript reviews for journals.
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