Sex and Gender Champions: A virtual community of practice and role on CIHR grants


The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the CIHR - Institute of Gender and Health (IGH) encourage all health researchers to incorporate sex as a biological variable and gender as a sociocultural determinant of health, to ensure that research findings address pressing health challenges facing men, women, girls, boys and gender-diverse people. Since 2014, CIHR has required the inclusion of Sex and Gender Champions on research teams for some of its funding initiatives. In 2016, a number of Sex and Gender Champions from CIHR- funded teams came together to create a virtual Sex and Gender Champion Community of Practice.

Role of Sex and Gender Champions on CIHR grants

The role of a Sex and Gender Champion on a CIHR-funded grant is to ensure that sex and/or gender considerations are integrated into each step of the research project, as appropriate, including in the rationale, design, methods, analysis, reporting and knowledge translation plan.

Sex and Gender Champions are self-identified or identified by their research teams in the CIHR funding application process. In order to act in this role, Champions should demonstrate expertise through a history of sex and/or gender publications and/or training (e.g. research training and/or completion of the IGH training modules) and through the rigour in which sex and/or gender considerations are integrated throughout the proposal.

Champions should support their research team to produce rigorous, transparent and generalizable research findings and subsequent implications through the consideration of sex and gender factors. Champions should also act as educators, mentors, consultants, facilitators, and/or advocates as they support learning, proposal development, research implementation and knowledge translation within their teams.

More information on the scope of the work of Sex and Gender Champions is available on the CIHR Website.

Virtual community of practice

Since 2016, the Sex and Gender Champion Community of Practice has met virtually three times per year to work collectively on supporting the integration of sex and gender considerations in the research plans of their respective teams. The community is composed of established researchers at Canadian institutions who are already acting as Sex and Gender Champions on CIHR grants. The community also welcomes established researchers who are interested in supporting their research teams in sex and gender integration, but who do not currently act as Sex and Gender Champions on CIHR-funded grants.

There is much that Sex and Gender Champions can learn from each other, and in turn share with their teams. The community participants discuss many topics, including:

  • Developments in understanding of the concepts of sex and gender, and their interaction;
  • Advances and innovations in sex and gender science;
  • Successes achieved and challenges encountered while acting as Sex and Gender Champions;
  • Training opportunities for researchers and trainees on sex and gender theories and methods;
  • Innovations in the advancement of sex and gender science in mentorship and funding of current and future scientists;
  • Online resources related to the inclusion of sex and gender in research, including those developed by IGH; and
  • International grey literature, published articles and conferences that support development in understanding of sex, gender and intersectionality.

Virtual communities are ideal for networking, sharing, discussing and synthesizing evidence, and for collectively identifying further actions. Given the ever-expanding breadth and knowledge in sex and gender science, the Sex and Gender Champion Community of Practice makes a valuable contribution to bringing this knowledge to research practice in Canada.

The meetings are usually held online in February, June and October. For more information or to become a member, contact:

Nancy Poole, Director, Centre of Excellence for Women's Health, or, CIHR - Institute of Gender and Health

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