Female sexual functioning is an area that has long been under researched, with many activists arguing greater efforts need to be made to find out more about women's sexual health. This is particularly important given the negative treatment of women by medics/social scientists in the past and the current focus on men's sexual functioning and pharmaceuticals, where women are being left behind.
It has been suggested that if people perceive researchers to be similar to them, they are more likely to co-operate. Within sex research it may be that the gender of the researcher could influence volunteer rates, along with the behaviour of participants in any subsequent studies. Evidence suggests that women are more likely to complete personal studies if a the researcher is female and for very sensitive issues, or research completed in the participant's home, it is preferable to have a same-sex interviewer. It may also be beneficial to utilise researchers who the participant feels they have a relationship with, as women have been found to reveal more to women they know. In addition, offering participants a choice of researcher has been found to be empowering, particularly if the researcher is from the same social or ethnic group as the participant. However, choice is the key here. We should not assume that because a researcher shares the same skin colour or gender they will automatically be the same as the participant. Nor that participants' will universally understand or appreciate a Western definition of consent. Ultimately researchers should be trained to appreciate and be sensitive to difference.
Ten Tips for Improving Women's Participation in Sex Research
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Additional resources on female sexuality are available from MayoClinic.com: