I realized from a “discussion” I had with my supervisor that erroneous usage of the word “gender” in biomedical writing occurs at the highest levels. He wanted my grantsmanship opinion on a PI’s glossing over potential “gender differences in disease incidence”; I gave him my editorial opinion on his incorrect use of the term “gender”. Copying the relevant page from the AMA Manual of Style did not change his mind. He will continue to use the term “gender” haphazardly (despite, oddly, years of bench research in reproductive steroidogenesis), and I will continue to correct him on this. We’re both stubborn this way. But only I’m right. We’ll see how long I remain both right and employed.
“gender vs sex: gender refers to the psychological/societal aspects of being male or female, sex specifically to the physical aspects. Do not interchange.”
As shown in this “crib sheet“, the APA Publication Manual confirms and elaborates on this very clear distinction:
Correct use of the terms “gender” and “sex”
The term “gender” refers to culture and should be used when referring to men and women as social groups, as in this example from the Publication Manual: “sexual orientation rather than gender accounted for most of the variance in the results; most gay men and lesbians were for it, most heterosexual men and women were against it” (APA, 2001, p. 63).
The term “sex” refers to biology and should be used when biological distinctions are emphasized, for example, “sex differences in hormone production.”
As an editor, I would of course add that nouns & pronouns can, depending on the language, have gender as well, though these are usually not studied in a biomedical setting.