References to sex and gender differences in the social sciences: analysis of journal publication records (1971–2021)
PDF (English)

Słowa kluczowe

sex differences
gender differences
Web of Science
social sciences
topic modelling

Jak cytować

Jakubowska, H., Cichocki, P., & Jabkowski, P. (2023). References to sex and gender differences in the social sciences: analysis of journal publication records (1971–2021). Ruch Prawniczy, Ekonomiczny I Socjologiczny, 85(4), 275–297.

Liczba wyświetleń: 133

Liczba pobrań: 110


Based on the publication records of journal articles indexed in the Web of Science Social Sciences Citation Index, our analysis examines the underlying factors influencing the usage of ‘sex differences’ over ‘gender differences’ in Titles and Author Keywords. Our search query identified 16,362 articles published in 1971–2021 that use either of the phrases and have at least one of their Research Areas belonging to the Social Sciences. In concurrence with earlier research, we find a substantial shift towards using ‘gender’ in the 1980s. However, for records published after 1992, the Publication Year has a negligible aggregate impact on the likelihood of ‘gender’ over ‘sex’, although meaningful trend differences occur across subsets defined by article-level disciplinary associations. Using the available publication meta-data (Publication Year, Research Area, Publication Journal) as well as the results of topic modelling (LDA) on Titles and Abstracts, we implement multi-level regression modelling to demonstrate that the likelihood of referring to ‘gender’ rather than ‘sex’ is strongly influenced by article-level disciplinary associations and their topical classification. We find that Psychology articles, by far the most numerous, exhibit a lower propensity to use ‘gender’ than all the other Social Sciences, especially when collaborating with Life Sciences & Biomedicine.
PDF (English)


National Science Centre, Poland, grant no 2018/31/B/HS6/00403 (2019.07.05-2023.07.04)


Baranowski, M., Cichocki, P. (2021). Good and bad sociology: does topic modelling make a difference? Society Register 5(4): 7-22. DOI:

Basow, S. A. (2010). Changes in psychology of women and psychology of gender textbooks (1975–2010). Sex Roles 62(3): 151-152. DOI:

Bates, D., Mächler, M., Bolker, B., Walker, S. (2015). Fitting linear mixed-effects models using lme4. Journal of Statistical Software 67(1): 1-48. DOI:

Belingheri, P., Chiarello, F., Fronzetti Colladon, A., Rovelli, P. (2021). Twenty years of gender equality research: A scoping review based on a new semantic indicator. PloS One 16(9): 1-27. DOI:

Biernat, M., Deaux, K. (2012). A history of social psychological research on gender: Monica Biernat and Kay Deaux. In A.W.S. Kruglanski, Wolfgang (eds.), Handbook of the History of Social Psychology (pp. 472-494). New York: Routledge.

Birkle, C., Pendlebury, D.A., Schnell, J., Adams, J. (2020). Web of Science as a data source for research on scientific and scholarly activity. Quantitative Science Studies 1(1): 363-376. DOI:

Bischof, J., Airoldi, E.M. (2012). Summarizing topical content with word frequency and exclusivity. Proceedings of the 29th International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML-12), Edinburgh, 26 June-1 July, 201-208.

Blei, D.M., Lafferty, J.D. (2009). Topic models. In A. N. Srivastava M. Sahami (eds.), Text Mining: Classification, Clustering, and Applications (pp. 71-89). Chapman & Hall. DOI:

Blei, D.M., Ng, A.Y., Jordan, M.I. (2003). Latent Dirichlet allocation. Journal of Machine Learning Research 3(2): 993-1022.

Brickell, C. (2006). The sociological construction of gender and sexuality. The Sociological Review 54(1): 87-113. DOI:

Butler, J. (1990). Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. Routledge.

Butler, J. (1993). Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex. Routledge.

Carlson, Å. (2016). Sex, biological functions and social norms: a simple constructivist theory of sex. NORA – Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research 24(1): 18-29. DOI:

Chrisler, J.C. (2007). The subtleties of meaning: still arguing after all these years. Feminism & Psychology 17(4): 442-446. DOI:

Costello, C.G. (2020). Beyond binary sex and gender ideology. In N. Boero, K. Mason (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of the Sociology of Body and Embodiment (pp. 199-220). Oxford: Oxford University Press. DOI:

Cranny-Francis, A., Waring, W., Stavropoulos, P., Kirkby, J. (2003). Ways of talking. In A. Cranny-Francis, W. Waring, P. Stavropoulos, J. Kirkby (eds.), Gender Studies: Terms and Debates (pp. 1-41). Macmillan Education UK. DOI:

Crawford, M. (2006). Transformations: Women, Gender and Psychology. McGraw-Hill.

Eagly, A.H., Eaton, A., Rose, S.M., Riger, S., McHugh, M.C. (2012). Feminism and psychology: analysis of a half-century of research on women and gender. American Psychologist 67(3): 211-230. DOI:

Fausto-Sterling, A. (1993). The five sexes: why male and female are not enough. The Sciences 33(2): 20-24. DOI:

Fox, M.F., Rueda, D.R., Sonnert, G., Nabors, A., Bartel, S. (2022). Publications about women, science, and engineering: use of sex and gender in titles over a forty-six-year period. Science, Technology, & Human Values 47(4): 774-814. DOI:

Freud, S. (1994). The social construction of gender. Journal of Adult Development 1(1): 37-45. DOI:

Frieze, I.H., Chrisler, J.C. (2011). Editorial policy on the use of the terms “sex” and “gender”. Sex Roles 64(11): 789. DOI:

Glasser, H.M., Smith, J.P. (2008). On the vague meaning of “gender” in education research: The problem, its sources, and recommendations for practice. Educational Researcher 37(6): 343-350. DOI:

Haig, D. (2004). The inexorable rise of gender and the decline of sex: social change in academic titles, 1945–2001. Archives of Sexual Behavior 33(2): 87-96. DOI:

Heidari, S., Babor, T.F., De Castro, P., Tort, S., Curno, M. (2016). Sex and gender equity in research: rationale for the SAGER guidelines and recommended use. Research Integrity and Peer Review 1(1): Article no. 2. DOI:

Helliwell, C. (2018). Sex/gender distinction. The International Encyclopedia of Anthropology 1/2. DOI:

Hilton, E.N., Lundberg, T.R. (2021). Transgender women in the female category of sport: perspectives on testosterone suppression and performance advantage. Sports Medicine 51(2): 199-214. DOI:

Hines, S. (2019). The feminist frontier: on trans and feminism. Journal of Gender Studies 28(2): 145-157. DOI:

Hood-Williams, J. (1996). Goodbye to sex and gender. The Sociological Review 44(1): 1-16. DOI:

Hox, J., Moerbeek, M., Van de Schoot, R. (2010). Multilevel Analysis: Techniques and Applications. Routledge. DOI:

Hyde, J.S. (2014). Gender similarities and differences. Annual Review of Psychology 65: 373-398. DOI:

Laqueur, T. (1992). Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Lips, H. M. (2020). Sex and Gender: An Introduction. Waveland Press.

Medhurst, A., Munt, S. (1997). Lesbian and Gay Studies: A Critical Introduction. Cassel.

Milojević, S., Sugimoto, C.R., Yan, E., Ding, Y. (2011). The cognitive structure of library and information science: analysis of article title words. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 62(10): 1933-1953. DOI:

Money, J., Hampson, J.G., Hampson, J.L. (1955). An examination of some basic sexual concepts: the evidence of human hermaphroditism. Bulletin of the Johns Hopkins Hospital 97(4): 301-319.

Muehlenhard, C.L., Peterson, Z.D. (2011). Distinguishing between sex and gender: history, current conceptualizations, and implications. Sex Roles 64(11): 791-803. DOI:

Oakley, A. (1972). Sex, Gender and Society. Revised Edition. Arena Gower Publishing.

Pearce, R., Erikainen, S., Vincent, B. (2020). TERF wars: an introduction. The Sociological Review 68(4): 677-698. DOI:

Poeschl, G. (2021). A hundred years of debates on sex differences: developing research for social change. Journal of Social and Political Psychology 9(1): 221-235. DOI:

Pryzgoda, J., Chrisler, J.C. (2000). Definitions of gender and sex: the subtleties of meaning. Sex Roles 43(7/8): 553-570. DOI:

R_Core_Team. (2022). R: A Language and Environment for Statistical Computing. In (Version 4.20)

Roberts, M.E., Stewart, B.M., Tingley, D. (2019). stm: An R package for structural topic models. Journal of Statistical Software 91(2): 1-40. DOI:

Rubin, G. (1975). The traffic in women: Notes on the “political economy” of sex. In R.R. Reiter (ed.), Toward an Anthropology of Women. Monthly Review Press.

Schiebinger, L., Leopold, S.S., Miller, V.M. (2016). Editorial policies for sex and gender analysis. Lancet (London, England) 388(10062): 2841-2842. DOI:

Silge, J., Robinson, D. (2017). Text Mining with R: A Tidy Approach. O’Reilly Media.

Singh, V.K., Singh, P., Karmakar, M., Leta, J., Mayr, P. (2021). The journal coverage of Web of Science, Scopus and Dimensions: a comparative analysis. Scientometrics 126(6): 5113-5142. DOI:

Söderlund, T., Madison, G. (2015). Characteristics of gender studies publications: a bibliometric analysis based on a Swedish population database. Scientometrics 105(3): 1347-1387. DOI:

Stoller, R.J. (1968). Sex and Gender: The Development of Masculinity and Femininity. Hogarth.

Torgrimson, B.N., Minson, C.T. (2005). Sex and gender: what is the difference? Journal of Applied Psychology 99(3): 785-787. DOI:

Unger, R.K. (1979). Toward a redefinition of sex and gender. American Psychologist 34(11): 1085. DOI:

Wallach, H.M. (2006). Topic modeling: beyond bag-of-words. Proceedings of the 23rd International Conference on Machine Learning, June 2006: 977-984. DOI:

Whissell, C. (2012). The trend toward more attractive and informative titles: American psychologist 1946–2010. Psychological Reports 110(2): 427-444. DOI:

Wickham, H. (2011). ggplot2. WIREs Computational Statistics 3(2): 180-185. DOI:

Wood, S.N., Augustin, N.H. (2002). GAMs with integrated model selection using penalized regression splines and applications to environmental modelling. Ecological Modelling 157(2): 157-177. DOI: