A social construction that assigns particular characteristics, norms, and roles to sex and genitalia. Refers to the different roles society expects of people. The behavioral, cultural, and psychological traits typically associated with one’s gender and often, incorrectly, assumed based on their sex assigned at birth. Usually refers to those aspects of life that are shaped by social forces or to the meaning that society gives to perceived biological differences. 

Do not use sex as a synonym for gender.

Note: Consider using “woman/women” rather than “female/females” as a noun. Female is an adjective, descriptive of animals. When female is used as a noun, it can reduce someone to their ability to reproduce and can be dehumanizing. It is also not inclusive of trans-women. The similar rule applies to male (adjective) vs. man (noun). E.g. male doctors (used correctly as an adjective) vs. doctors who are men (used correctly as a noun).


Adapted from UMass Medical and UMassMemorial Health Care’s Diversity + Inclusion, Diversity Toolkit and BMC’s Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery