EMHF board members played important roles in the first-ever workshop at European Commission level on research and gender.
The Commission’s Directorate General for Research organised ‘Talking life Sciences to both sexes’ on research communication and gender at its Brussels office, right. It brought together a multidisciplinary group of experts from several European countries, the US and Canada to present and discuss theoretical and empirical data, as well as practical experiences.
The importance of communicating science effectively to a public which differs along lines of age, ethnicity, education, religious beliefs, social position and gender is clear. This workshop focussed specifically on gender to assess whether there is a need to communicate life sciences differently to men and women.
EMHF board member Professor Alan White presented on the particular aspect of men and obesity, highlighting that while statistics can differentiate between sexes, much research is still needed to better understand the full impact of gender. ‘Beyond biological differences, the perception of societal pressures contributes to shape the health behaviours of overweight boys and girls in different ways,’ he said. ‘Failing to understand the concept of gender may already be at source of men lack of or poor information about weight issues.’
Fellow board member Peggy Maguire, who is Director of the European Institute for Women’s Health, presented on the necessity to understand both male and female gender implications for the development of future public health policies.
All together over 100 delegates were present to discuss a wide range of topics, including:
- Are there differences between the male and female brain?
- Do men and women perceive risk differently?
- Do men and women process scientific information differently?
- Should there be a difference when teaching boys and girls science in school?
The workshop concluded with a lively debate between audience and speakers,on the need for gender-sensitivity when communicating about science and scientific results. A full report will be soon published by the Commission.
For further information, contact one of the organisers: Line Matthiessen-Guyader or Jana Voigt (European Commission – DG Research, Directorate E ‘Biotechnology, Agriculture and Food’, Unit ‘Strategic and Policy Aspects’, SDME 8/39, B -1049 Brussels, Belgium)