JCPP Editorial: Volume 58, Issue 08, August 2017

Journal Operations Manager at ACAMH

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Editorial: Let’s talk about sex – the gender binary revisited

Albertine J. Oldehinkel


Sex refers to biological differences and gender to socioculturally delineated masculine and feminine roles. Sex or gender are included as a covariate or effect modifier in the majority of child psychology and psychiatry studies, and differences found between boys and girls have inspired many researchers to postulate underlying mechanisms. Empirical tests of whether including these proposed explanatory variables actually reduces the variance explained by gender are lagging behind somewhat. That is a pity, because a lot can be gained from a greater focus on the active agents of specific gender differences. As opposed to biological sex as such, some of the processes explaining why a specific outcome shows gender differences may be changeable and so possible prevention targets. Moreover, while the sex binary may be reasonable adequate as a classification variable, the gender binary is far from perfect. Gender is a multidimensional, partly context-dependent factor, and the dichotomy generally used in research does not do justice to the diversity existing within boys and girls.

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