Gender and Health

Relational, Intersectional, and Biosocial Approaches

In the past, research on sex/gender and health has not incorporated a conceptualization including contemporary feminist, relational approaches to gender, nor has it prioritized research on intersectional and biosocial approaches.

This special issue of Social Science & Medicine contains papers exploring these approaches, which emerged from a conference originating from the Gender and Health Working Group (2008-2010) of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholars Program at Columbia University. The July 2010 conference featured papers that conference participants read and discussed for inclusion in the special issue.

The papers are divided into three foci:

  • Gender as relational
    • Gender is made not born.
    • Gender is inescapably embedded in and constitutive of social structure.
    • Sex/gender differences research need not reify the binary.
  • Intersectionality
    • Intersectionality does not marginalize gender, but conceptualizes gender as a fluid, intersecting form of inequality.
    • Intersectionality is producing methodological innovations.
    • Intersectionality is a challenge to status quo gender research and policy.
  • Biosocial approaches
    • Excellent relational biosocial gender and health research is doable.
    • A biological difference does not mean a biological cause.
    • Biosocial approaches require taking biology, as well as the social environment, seriously.

Gender and health is a rapidly changing field. This article highlights the ways this collection of papers, engaging a variety of methodologies, expand the field of gender and health.

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