What is Gendered Innovations?

Gendered Innovations harness the creative power of sex and gender analysis to discover new things.
The peer-reviewed Gendered Innovations project:

  • develops practical methods of sex and gender analysis for scientists and engineers;
  • provides case studies as concrete illustrations of how sex and gender analysis leads to innovation.

Londa Schiebinger discusses the project in the video clip below:


Why Gendered Innovations?

Thirty years of research have revealed that sex and gender bias is socially harmful and expensive. For example, between 1997 and 2000, 10 drugs were withdrawn from the U.S. market because of life-threatening health effects. Eight of these posed "greater health risks for women than for men" (U.S. GAO, 2001). Not only does developing a drug in the current market cost billions—but when drugs failed, they caused human suffering and death.

Gender bias also leads to missed market opportunities. In engineering, for example, considering short people (many women, but also many men) “out-of-position” drivers leads to greater injury in automobile accidents (see Pregnant Crash Test Dummies). In basic research, failing to use appropriate samples of male and female cells, tissues, and animals yields faulty results (see Stem Cells). In medicine, not recognizing osteoporosis as a male disease delays diagnosis and treatment in men (see Osteoporosis Research in Men). In city planning, not collecting data on caregiving work leads to inefficient transportation systems (see Housing and Neighborhood Design). We can’t afford to get the research wrong.

It is crucially important to identify gender bias and understand how it operates in science and technology. But analysis cannot stop there: Gendered Innovations offer state-of-the-art methods of sex and gender analysis. Integrating these methods into basic and applied research produces excellence in science, health & medicine, and engineering research, policy, and practice. The methods of sex and gender analysis are one set of methods among many that a researcher will bring to a project. Doing research right can save lives and money (Roth et al., 2014).

Three Strategic Approaches

Governments and universities have taken three strategic approaches to gender equality over the past several decades:
  • 1. "Fix the Numbers of Women" focuses on increasing women's participation.
  • 2. "Fix the Institutions" promotes gender equality in careers through structural change in research organizations (NSF; European Commission, 2011).
  • 3. "Fix the Knowledge" or "gendered innovations" or the "gender dimension" stimulates excellence in science and technology by integrating sex and gender analysis into research.

what is gendered InnovationsGendered Innovations:

  • Add value to research and engineering by ensuring excellence and quality in outcomes and enhancing sustainability.
  • Add value to society by making research more responsive to social needs.
  • Add value to business by developing new ideas, patents, and technology.

Gendered Innovations stimulate gender-responsible science and technology, thereby enhancing the quality of life for both women and men worldwide.

Project Background:

The current Gendered Innovations project was initiated at Stanford University, July 2009. In January 2011 the European Commission set up an expert group, “Innovation through Gender,” aimed at developing the gender dimension in EU research and innovation. The U.S. National Science Foundation joined the project January 2012. Gendered Innovations has also collaborated in the development of the 2010 genSET Consensus Report and the United Nations Resolutions related to Gender, Science and Technology passed March 2011.

To match the global reach of science and technology, the case studies and methods of sex and gender analysis were developed through international collaborations. More than sixty experts from across Europe, the United States, and Canada participated in a series of peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary workshops: Stanford University (February 2011); Fraunhofer, Berlin (March 2011); Maastricht University (July 2011); Ministry for Higher Education and Research, Paris (March 2012); Spanish National Cancer Research Center, Madrid (May 2012); Harvard University (July 2012); and Spanish National Research Council, Brussels (September 2012).

European Parliament Session

July 9, 2013 the Gendered Innovations project was presented to the European Parliament. As part of that session, we published Gendered Innovations: How Gender Analysis Contributes to Research with a foreword by European Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn. European Union policy prioritizes "the gender dimension in research and innovation content." Gendered Innovations provide the practical tools for this work through our Methods of Sex and Gender Analysis. The twenty-three case studies offer new insights in basic science, engineering & technological development, environment, food & nutrition, health & medicine, and transport. Integrating sex and gender analysis into research sparks creativity by offering new perspectives, posing new questions, and opening new areas to research. This publication is drawn from the GI website, which remains the most complete and updated source of information on gendered innovations.

Goal of the Gendered Innovations Project:

The goal of the Gendered Innovations project is to provide scientists and engineers with practical methods for sex and gender analysis. To match the global reach of science and technology, methods of sex and gender analysis were developed through international collaborations. Gendered Innovations involves experts from across the U.S. and the EU 27 Member States (see Contributors).

Sex and Gender Analysis Lead to Gendered Innovations:


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How to Use this Website: 

This website has six interactive main portals:

  • Methods of sex and gender analysis for research and engineering
  • Case studies illustrate how sex and gender analysis leads to innovation
  • Terms address key concepts used throughout the site
  • Checklists for researchers, engineers, and evaluators
  • Policy provides recommendations in addition to links to key national and international policies that support Gendered Innovations
  • Institutional Transformation summarizes current literature on: 1) increasing the numbers of women in science, health & medicine, and engineering; 2) removing subtle gender bias from research institutions; and 3) solutions and best practices.

screenshot of page 1

The term "Gendered Innovations" was coined by Londa Schiebinger in 2005.

© European Union, 2011
© Stanford University, 2011

Works Cited

  • European Commission. (2011). Structural Change in Research Institutions: Enhancing Excellence, Gender Equality, and Efficiency in Research and Innovation. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.
  • National Science Foundation (NSF). ADVANCE—Increasing the participation and advancement of women in academic science and engineering careers. http://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=5383 (6 Jan 2014).
  • Roth, J., Etzioni, R., Waters, T., Pettinger, M., Rossouw, J., Anderson, G., Chlebowski, R., Manson, J., Hlatky, M., Johnson, K. (2014). Economic Return from the Women's Health Initiative Estrogen Plus Progestin Clinical Trial: AModeling Study. Annals of Internal Medicine, 160 (9), 594-602.
  • United States General Accounting Office. (2001). Drug Safety: Most Drugs withdrawn in Recent Years had Greater Health Risks for Women. Washington, DC: Government Publishing Office.