The Gender & Women's Studies Department at Minnesota State University, Mankato contributes to feminist and social concerns through undergraduate and graduate degree programs and courses. We appeal to a wide variety of disciplines.
Gender refers to the attitudes, feelings, and behaviors that a given culture associates with a person's biological sex (APA, 2012). Gender is a social construct and a social identity. Use the term “gender” when referring to people as social groups. For example, when reporting the genders of participants in the Method section, write something like this: “Approximately 60% of participants identified as cisgender women, 35% as cisgender men, 3% as transgender women, 1% as transgender men, and 1% as nonbinary.” Sex refers to biological sex assignment; use the term “sex” when the biological distinction of sex assignment (e.g., sex assigned at birth) is predominant. Using “gender” instead of “sex” also avoids ambiguity over whether “sex” means “sexual behavior.” In some cases, there may not be a clear distinction between biological and acculturative factors, so a discussion of both sex and gender would be appropriate. For example, in the study of sexual orientation, researchers continue to examine the extent to which sexuality or sexual orientation—attraction to sex, gender, or some combination of both—is a biological and/or acculturative phenomenon.