Sex Contextualism


Richardson, Sarah S. “Sex Contextualism,” Working Paper. Copy at


This paper develops the conceptual framework of “sex contextualism” for the study of sex-related biological variables in basic, preclinical biomedical research. Sex contextualism offers an alternative to binary sex essentialist approaches to the study of sex as a biological variable. Specifically, sex contextualism recognizes the pluralism and context-specificity of operationalizations of ‘sex’ across bioscience research, particularly in a laboratory context. In light of recent policy mandates to consider sex as a biological variable, sex contextualism offers constructive guidance to bioscience research for attending to sex-related biological variation. As a constructive alternative to and critique of biological binary sex essentialism, sex contextualism contributes to current debates in philosophy of biology, feminist science studies, and social ontology on the construction of categories of gender/sex differences in scientific research.  (This paper is currently under review for publication; contact for manuscript.)