When it's time for the sex talk, words matter

Austin T. Robinson, Megan M. Wenner, Kanokwan Bunsawat, Joseph C. Watso, Gabrielle E.W. Giersch, Nisha Charkoudian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


In recent years, the traditional, unspoken assumption in published biomedical research studies that the young, healthy (usually white) male is the “default human” has received increasing scrutiny and criticism. The historical under-representation of female participants in biomedical research has been increasingly recognized and addressed, including with the current call for papers at American Journal of Physiology- Heart and Circulatory Physiology. Our goal in the present Perspective is to discuss the topic of terminology (man/woman versus male/female) for human research participants when considering sex as a biological variable. This important consideration is consistent with the importance of gender identity and related topics to psychological, emotional, and physical health. Just as pronouns are important, so is appropriate terminology when referring to human research volunteers. Despite some disagreement regarding terminology between our two groups of authors, we provide consensus recommendations. Importantly, we all agree that the most vital aspect of the present discussion is the broader focus on sex as a biological variable and appropriate inclusion of biological sex in in vitro, preclinical, and human research studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • Biological sex
  • Female
  • Gender
  • Male
  • Men
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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