WHRN gender concept for the selection of solution-linked sex/gender variables
What is the goal? 

The definition and use of solution-linked sex/gender variables for the description of a study population as well as for multivariable data analysis aim to show sex/gender-related health inequalities. The concept focuses on underlying mechanisms that can be changed, instead of using only a binary sex/gender variable.

What is the gender concept of the Women's Health Research Network (WHRN)?
How can the goal be achieved?

By referring to a sound theoretical concept of sex/gender, key sex/gender-related dimensions can be captured analytically. By using solution-linked sex/gender variables in data analysis, underlying mechanisms for sex/gender-related health inequalities can be described and starting points for the development of interventions to reduce these inequalities can be identified.

What are the advantages?

Sex/gender is not only considered as a static characteristic. Rather, mechanisms underlying the identified sex/gender differences are increasingly examined. This approach can prevent groups or individuals from being reduced to a single characteristic.

The integration of modifiable or solution-linked sex/gender variables into health monitoring and further into health reporting has the potential to strengthen the empirical basis for the development as well as the evaluation of sex/gender-responsive interventions.

What are the challenges?

Variables that can capture the multidimensionality of sex/gender are still rarely collected in population-based studies. A far-reaching integration of solution-linked sex/gender variables into multivariable analysis may fail due to the limited availability of data.

Example from the AdvanceGender project

Further resources

  • Johnson JL, Greaves L, Repta R. Better science with sex and gender: a primer for health research. Vancouver: Women's Health Research Network Vancouver; 2007.  undefinedundefinedundefined

This document was retrieved from the AdvanceGender website (  


Emily Mena, Gabriele Bolte (University of Bremen, Institute for Public Health and Nursing Research, Department of Social Epidemiology) on behalf of the joint project AdvanceGender

Suggested citation: Mena E, Bolte G. WHRN gender concept for the selection of solution-oriented gender variables. In: AdvanceGender Study Group (ed.). Options for gender-sensitive and intersectionality-informed research and health reporting; 2022. (

Contact persons: Gabriele Bolte (

Version: 1.0 (Date: 04.01.2022)