Engaging men to support women in science, medicine, and global health

Elsevier, The Lancet, Volume 393, Issue 10171, 9–15 February 2019, Pages 609-610.
Authors: 
Kopano Phil, Ravi Verma, Salvador Cruz and Anisur Khan

Gender is constitutive of men's collective and personal relations to women. Although there are regional, national, and institutional differences and dynamics to consider, gender inequality affects most, if not all, societies. The fields of natural sciences, medicine, and global health are no exception. A range of social scientific theories exist, including divergent approaches within feminism, regarding the definition and understanding of gender, causes of gender inequality, and ways to address it. For example, whereas West and Zimmerman define gender as “the activity of managing situated conduct in light of normative conceptions of attitudes and activities appropriate for one's sex category”, Scott describes gender as “a constitutive element of social relationships based on perceived differences between the sexes and… a primary way of signifying relationships of power”. Despite differences within feminism, a notable achievement of feminist theory has been to shift long-held views on the concept of gender, and by implication, masculinity and femininity. Specifically, two key shifts have been made, namely the uncoupling of gender from a supposedly intractable biological sex (although the relationship between sex and gender is more complex), and the depiction of gender as a cultural construction, rather than a natural characteristic.