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Gender and Research

Gender and Research

Author: Zach Lamb

Differentiate between the various gender-based issues that can impact research.

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Source: Intro Music by Mark Hannan; Public Domain

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[MUSIC PLAYING] Hello, and welcome to Sociological Studies. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to study society. The topic of today's lesson is gender and research. We're going to look at how issues of gender influence the research that sociologists do.

For starters, we're going to define androcentricity and gynocentricity. Well, androcentricity is really a focus on the male. It's a biased focus on the male perspective, a privilege of the male perspective over that of the female. Whereas gynocentricity is just the opposite-- focus on the female, or a biased privilege of the female perspective over that of the male while doing research. Both of these are a problem for social research-- if you tend to ignore one half of the population when you're doing your research.

When you operate with an androcentric perspective or a gynocentric perspective, you run the risk of overgeneralizing, which can be a real problem in social research. Overgeneralizing is stepping too far with your conclusion. It's drawing conclusions about all people when you only have data on particular groups.

For instance, if you're researching American culture and you want to understand what Americans do within culture, and you find that men like to watch football. So in your report, you write that all Americans like to watch football. This is an example of an overgeneralization, because not all Americans might enjoy watching football. For instance, women might not. So further research is needed to make that claim, that all Americans like to watch football.

It's a valiant effort to avoid being androcentric or gynocentric when you're doing your research and then to avoid overgeneralization. However, it is important not to completely ignore the effects of gender on social life and on sociological research for that matter. Doing so results in gender blindness, which is completely overlooking the role that gender plays in social life.

Another related problem to be avoided when doing social research is double standards, which is having different standards for two similar groups of people, commonly males and females. If you're in a relationship, you might know about double standards. For instance, any time you or your partner says something like, well, why is it OK for you to do that, but not for me, you're getting at a double standard. So researchers must be very careful not to carry double standards into their work when they're gathering data and when they're analyzing their data.

And finally, the last area of concern with respect to gender and social research is that of interference. Interference is when the sex of the researcher interferes with the data collection process. This is more of a problem for qualitative research than it is for quantitative research.

For instance, a professor of mine while I was in school told me a story about how when she was doing her interview fieldwork, there was a respondent that kept asking her out on dates. And she felt that he was exaggerating some of his stories to seem a little cooler to her so she would be more likely to go on a date with him. She eventually had to cut the relationship completely, not use any of his transcripts because of this. So you can see then how the sex of the researcher might affect the research process. And this is called interference.

I hope you enjoyed today's discussion of gender and research. We defined androcentricity, gynocentricity, overgeneralization, double standards, and interference. Thank you for joining me, and have a great rest of your day.

Terms to Know

A focus on the male or on the male perspective.

Double Standard

Having two different standards for similar groups of people.

Gender Blindness

Overlooking or ignoring the role that gender plays in social life.


A focus on the female or on the female perspective.


Occurs when the sex of the researcher interferes with the data collection process.


Speaking about an entire population when you only have knowledge of a part.