ジェンダード・イノベーション(GI)Gendered Innovations (GI)-2023(No.1)

佐々木 成江/SASAKI Narie

佐々木 成江SASAKI Narie

「ジェンダード・イノベーション」とは?What is Gendered Innovations?


Gendered Innovation is a coined term, combining “gendered,” meaning to be based on gender differences, and “innovations,” meaning new intellectual and technological creation or development. Professor Londa Schiebinger of Stanford University proposed this relatively new concept in 2005.


Please give us the background about how the new concept of “Gendered Innovations” came about.


Until now, research and development in the fields of science and technology has tended to have focused on and be standardized for men only, and women have tended to be at a disadvantage. However, rather than seeing this as a negative, gendered innovation is based on the idea that innovation and discovery can be realized by actively and positively incorporating gender analysis into the research and development process in scientific and technological fields. By incorporating the new approach of gender analysis, new perspectives will be added to research and technological development, which will lead it in new directions and open up new areas of excellence.


What points should be considered when conducting analyses of sex/gender differences?


When conducting the gender analysis that is involved with gendered innovation, it is necessary to analyze from the perspectives of biological sex, such as differences in the structure and functions of male and female bodies, and of socially and culturally created gender, for example, the division of gender roles. This is because biological sex and gender interact to shape the individual. Recently, it has become more important to consider not only gender analysis but also intersectionality, i.e., gender identity, transgenderism, age, race, ethnicity, disability, regionality, economic situation, etc.


ジェンダード・イノベーションの例(具体的な研究事例)を教えてください。Could you please tell us about some concrete research examples?

ジェンダード・イノベーションに関する大規模な国際共同プロジェクトが欧米を中心に展開され、科学、保健と医療、工学、環境の分野に関する様々なケーススタディがスタンフォード大学のHPや欧州委員会の報告書(Gendered Innovation, 2013Gendered Innovation2, 2020)で紹介されています。その中から、ジェンダード・イノベーションの例をいくつか紹介します。

Large-scale international joint projects on gendered innovation are being developed in Europe and the United States. A variety of case studies in the fields of science, health and medicine, engineering, and the environment are introduced on the Stanford University website and in European Commission reports (Gendered Innovation, 2013; Gendered Innovation2, 2020). Here are some of them.



Examples in the Field of Science

Males tend to be used in animal experimentation. This is because, due to the estrous cycle, females have data that fluctuates depending on the time of year, so it is easier to avoid females. However, by using not only males but females as well, it was discovered in experiments in the field of pain research that there are gender differences in pain circuitry*2. In addition, it has been also reported the sex differences in the effect of osteocalcin, bone hormone, on obesity control: osteocalcin reduces the size of adipocytes in female mice and causes adipocyte hypertrophy in male mice*3.


So, the discoveries were made by using female as well as male in data of animal experiments. If there are sex differences in pain circuitry, there will likely be unexpected discoveries in the pharmaceutical field.



Examples in the Health & Medical Sector

The metabolism, side effects, and efficacy of drugs may differ between men and women, but most drugs have the same prescriptions for men and women. Women, however, are more likely to have experience side effects*4. This is largely because drug development, from preclinical research using animals to clinical trials, has been conducted mainly on men (or males). By including women (or females) in half of the testing, it will be possible to develop medications and treatments according to gender. It is also becoming clear that there are differences between men and women in terms of their susceptibility to disease onset, symptoms, treatment methods, and preventive methods. One can expect that there will therefore be developments in the fields of gendered medical science and gendered medical care.


It seems that in the future, there will be new advancements in the fields of pharmacy and medicine by considering sex/gender differences. How about in the field of engineering?



Examples in the Field of Engineering

The dummies used in car crash tests are, for the male dummies, modeled after the average male body (175cm), but for the female dummies, are smaller than the average female body (145cm). Also in frontal collision tests for cars, only male dummies were used in the driver’s seat. Women drivers are reported as being 47% more likely to be seriously injured*5. In addition, it is understood that the conventional three-point seat belt increases the miscarriage rate of pregnant women*6. The development of various dummies and their use in crash tests are expected to lead to improvements in vehicle safety.


I was surprised that, even though both men and women drive cars, only male dummies were used in the driver’s seats. This means that the differences in physique between men and women have been overlooked in research and development. Are there any other new examples in the field of research and development?



Examples in the Field of Engineering

Women are more than twice as likely to report discomfort when using virtual reality*7. This may be due to conflict between the visual system and the vestibular system, which controls balance, to which women are more sensitive. Women tend to get motion sickness more easily than men do, so it is important to clarify the mechanism and include women in the development and testing of virtual reality prototypes.


It seems that the sex/gender perspective is being incorporated in various research and development fields, but do other aspects such as race and age also make a difference?



Examples in the Field of Engineering

The accuracy of facial recognition differs depending on sex/gender and race. Accuracy is lower for females than for males, and lower for dark-skinned people than for white people*8. Several companies are already addressing this issue and revising their machine-learning datasets to significantly improve accuracy*9. In addition, there is the new problem that facial recognition accuracy decreases for transgender individuals during their transition period.


So, there are several patterns to be considered in combination with sex/gender. It seems that specialists from a variety of fields will need to cooperate to broaden their perspectives, to make the world a more comfortable place for us in the future.



Examples in the Field of the Environment

Gender analysis of urban spaces shows that the urban environment may reinforce gender roles and norms, preventing men and women from providing equal services. In Vienna, gender experts are involved in urban planning, and housing and streetscapes are being designed with consideration given to gender and age. The city itself has been evaluated as the city with the highest quality of life in the world. These kinds of initiatives are spreading across Europe.

ジェンダード・イノベーション研究とジェンダー研究の違いはありますか?Is there a difference between Gendered Innovation Studies and Gender Studies?


To date, the measures relating to gender equality in the scientific and technological fields include first, “Fix the Number”, in this case, an increase in the number of female researchers, followed by “Fix the Institutions”, by way of an increase in the number of female leaders and improvements to their work-life balance. A new third measure is, “Fix the Knowledge”. This is Gendered Innovations constitutes knowledge reform.


Gendered Innovations can be described as reexamining knowledge, and I think that gender studies are, in the same way, trying to bring about it.


Gender Studies is a field of study that studies general social issues from the perspective of gender. Gendered Innovations mainly focuses on areas that have thus far not received much attention, such as research and development in the fields of science and technology. I think that one big difference is that it takes into account not only gender but also biological differences. People in the fields of science and technology are not accustomed to thinking about gender, so I believe it will be very important for the experts in gender studies to integrate the sciences with the humanities.


The mission of Gendered Innovation is to bring the perspective of gender, which has already widespread across the humanities and social sciences, into the fields of science and technology.

ジェンダード・イノベーション研究に興味を持ったきっかけは何ですか?What sparked your interest in Gendered Innovation research?


I learned about Gendered Innovations about four years ago. I am a biological researcher and although I am a scientist and pursue the truth, I was shocked that I had not questioned using only males in experiments. I was sensitive to gender issues because I was also involved in activities that support the participation of female researchers. It was something that I did not realize about myself, and I think it was the same for many researchers.


I also came from a science background. I was taught that only males should be used in basic biological experiments, and it was something that I took for granted.


Yes, I learned that too when I was a student. While it felt like it could be dangerous for things to continue as they were and for science and technology to remain biased, I felt that there was great potential for the development of science and technology through gendered innovation. In terms of business, I also anticipate that the opportunities in business will expand as new medical treatments, products, and services are born.


I also believe that gendered innovation will require equity, or a fair perspective, to investigate the differences and to compensate for differences if there are any. I hope that the penetration of gendered science and technology into society will improve the quality of life for a diverse range of people and lead to the realization of an inclusive and fair society.


It is very reassuring to hear that Gendered Innovation has the power to not only make advancements in business and research but also to change society.



For example, in one case study on the Stanford University website, a fluid dynamics laboratory that had a few female researchers changed its research theme to medical engineering with a focus on the HIV sterilization gel used by women, after which the number of female researchers increased to the point where they became the majority. When I learned about this case, I realized that one of the reasons why there are few female researchers might be that fewer themes are of interest to women.

There are also reports suggesting that the papers analyzing gender differences are often written by women. I hope that the spread of gendered innovation will increase the number of female researchers who are interested in scientific fields.

最後にジェンダード・イノベーション研究に興味を持った方、これから取り組もうとしている方へのメッセージをお願いします。Final Question. Please give a message for those who are interested in Gendered Innovation research and want to get involved in this field?


Gendered innovation will exert its power in a variety of scientific and technological sectors, such as natural science, medicine, engineering, AI, agriculture, transportation, cities, and the environment. I encourage you to research whether or not gender differences have been taken into consideration in the fields in which you are interested. There may be an opportunity there.


Your easy-to-understand explanations and powerful message made me feel that we will see a lot of progress in the future. Thank you very much for your wonderful talk.


注釈 / annotation

  1. Schiebinger, L. (2021) Gendered Innovations: integrating sex, gender, and intersectional analysis into science, health & medicine, engineering, and environment. TAPUYA. 4: 1867420.

  2. Dance, A. (2019) Why the sexes don’t feel pain the same way. Nature. 567: 448-450.

  3. Yasutake, Y., Mizokami, A. et al. (2016) Long-term oral administration of osteocalcin induces insulin resistance in male mice fed a high-fat, high-sucrose diet. Am. J. Physiol.-Endocrinol. Metab. 310: E662-E675.

  4. Zopf, Y. et al. (2008) Women encounter ADRs more often than do men. Euro. J. Clin. Pharmacol. 64: 999-1004.

  5. Bose, D. & Segui-Gomez, M. (2011) Vulnerability of female drivers involved in motor vehicle crashes: an analysis of US population at risk. Am. J. Public Health. 101: 2368–2373.

  6. Weiss, H. et al. (2001) Fetal Deaths related to maternal injury. J. Am. Med. Assoc. 286: 1863-1868.

  7. Munafo, J. et al. (2017). The virtual reality head-mounted display Oculus Rift induces motion sickness and is sexist in its effects. Exp. Brain Res. 235: 889–901.

  8. Buolamwini, J. & Gebru, T. (2018). Gender shades: Intersectional accuracy disparities in commercial gender classification. Proc. Mach. Learn. Res. 81: 77-91.

  9. Raji, I. D. & Buolamwini, J. (2019). Actionable auditing: investigating the impact of publicly naming biased performance results of commercial AI products. Proceedings of the AAAI/ACM Conference on Artificial Intelligence, Ethics, and Society. 429-435

  10. Jackowska, O. & Ferradás, M. N. (2022) Who owns public spaces? The trailblazer exhibition on women’s everyday life in the City of Vienna. Planning perspectives. 38:253-279


高丸 理香TAKAMARU Rika

特任准教授Project Associate Professor