A joint meeting between CIOMS and GENDRO: Sex and gender considerations in current research ethics guidelines and research ethics committees’ work 

2 February 2023 | CIOMS and GENDRO

On February 2nd, 2023, GENDRO and CIOMS held a joint meeting convening relevant stakeholders such as the World Medical Association, Council of Europe, and World Health Organization as well as representatives from research ethics committees, research institutions and pharmaceutical industry to discuss the key role of Research Ethics Committees (RECs) in addressing persistent gender bias in research with human participants. Among others, the participants discussed how the SAGER guidelines can be a valuable tool to the research ethics committees to bring further attention to the importance of sex and gender and their intersection with other variables in their evaluations.

​CIOMS’ Secretary General Dr. Lembit Rägo who co-chaired the meeting, welcomed the opportunity to co-host the event together with GENDRO and initiate the conversation on the role of RECs in strengthening sex and gender in health research. During the opening remarks, GENDRO’s President Dr. Shirin Heidari talked about the lack of incorporating sex and gender considerations in research as a key concern and the success of the SAGER guidelines in raising awareness and addressing the persistent poor reporting of sex and gender dimensions in research. The guidelines have contributed as well to improving the reporting of sex-disaggregated data and gender analysis. She then highlighted how every gatekeeper in the research ecosystem, including the research ethics committees, bears the responsibility for ensuring that sex and gender considerations are properly incorporated into health research design, conduct and reporting.

​Dr. Abha Saxena, an independent bioethicist presented the findings of a scoping review on the topic conducted as part of GENDRO’s working group on gender and research ethics, which reveals the lack of evidence on adequate attention to sex and gender dimensions in the work of research ethics committees.

​The meeting created an opportunity for building consensus on the importance of a coherent approach across all stakeholders in the research ecosystem to improve inclusion and meaningful consideration of sex and gender and their intersection with other variables in research. The participants highlighted the need for closer collaboration and alignment across sectors and actors, including editors, funders, industry, regulatory bodies, normative agencies and research organisations, to change the way research is conducted and reported, in order to improve sex and gender equity in research. The meeting concluded with proposed actions and a path forward to collaboratively realize this mission which GENDRO and CIOMS will take forward.

Read the full report here.