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Mar / Apr 2023

"Think about how you can get diverse input from multiple populations so that your research can benefit everybody."

This Women’s History Month, let’s talk about inclusion of women and gender minorities as participants in human subjects research. Most human subjects researchers know that a 50/50 split of men and women is desirable, but this still remains a lofty goal. In my own field of exoskeleton research, women remain underrepresented as research participants because “men handle the physical jobs.” As a result, many exoskeletons fit women poorly and do not provide the desired benefits such as back relief. When women are included, many studies simply aim for a 50/50 split and call it a day: they do not consider gender differences in analysis and simply hope that men and women will average out in the analysis. Furthermore, when women are included, they are usually white and under 65 years old, with women of color and older women still underrepresented.

That doesn’t even consider gender minorities. NIH enrollment reports include three categories: “Male”, “Female”, and “Unknown”. Where do we put our transgender and gender diverse participants? They are often simply excluded; in my own field of affective computing, which examines physiological responses to stress, transgender people are often excluded because hormone replacement therapy may result in “unpredictable” physiological responses. At the same time, they often do not self-report their gender identity, either because the research documentation does not allow it (“Check one: Male, Female”) or because they do not feel comfortable discussing it with researchers. Even if they do report it, researchers may not be motivated to report it in publications; I have been criticized by reviewers for reporting that transgender people were included in research that was not focused on gender issues, as if transgender people may only exist in gender research. As a research community, we must do better. At minimum, don’t just think about male/female quotas: think about how you can get diverse input from multiple populations so that your research can benefit everybody.

Vesna Novak

Associate Professor, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

In the Headlines

How four transgender researchers are improving the health of their communities

Being transgender can inspire these researchers and improve their work, but sometimes their research has nothing to do with their identity. Nature Medicine spoke to four transgender medical professionals and researchers about what inspires their research, trans inclusivity in science and medicine, and the unique challenges and successes of being trans in these fields.

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Select Resources to Drive DEI in Research at UC

APF: Wayne F. Placek Grant

The Wayne F. Placek Grant encourages empirical research from all fields of the behavioral and social sciences to increase the general public's understanding of homosexuality and sexual orientation, and to alleviate the stress that lesbian women, gay men, bisexual women, bisexual men, and transgender individuals experience in this and future civilizations.

Learn More

Out to Innovate Scholarships

The Out to Innovate™ Scholarships, established in 2011, are intended for LGBTQ+ undergraduate and graduate students pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) programs. The scholarships are designed to promote academic excellence and increased visibility of talented LGBTQ+ students in STEM careers. 

Learn More

The UC DEI in Research Advisory Council

Meet the members of the 2022-2023 DEI in Research Advisory Council

Ann Gakumo

Associate Professor

Endowed Chair

NURS-Inst for Nursing Research

Angela Vazquez

College of Medicine

Ashley Ross

Associate Professor


Brieanne Sheehan

Program Director


Caitlyn Chambers

Post-Doc Fellow

Office of Research and the School Psychology Program

Heekyoung Jung

College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning

James Mack

A&S-Arts and Sciences

Associate Dean

Professor of Chemistry

Jasmine Burno

Sr. Sponsored Research Admin

Research-Grants and Contracts

Jennifer Krivickas

Associate Vice President for Research

Strategic Programs & Signature Initiatives

Jessica Guess


Office of Institutional Accessibility

Tai Collins

Associate Professor

CECH-Human Services

Vesna Novak

CEAS-Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

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Learn more about the DEI in Research team and our initiatives on the official website

University of Cincinnati Office of Research

University Hall Suite 540 ML0663

Cincinnati, OH 45221-0663

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