BOHS, The Chartered Society for Worker Health Protection, is delighted to announce that the Annals of Work Exposures and Health will be publishing a special edition of the journal, on the subject of Gender, Work and Health.

The subject of gender, while very prominent in the public arena currently, is of course equally relevant within the workplace.  Men and women occupy different positions in the workforce, which lead to differences in the types of work they do, and the working environments they are exposed to. Within research however, it’s often the case that this diversity has not been taken into account.

The Annals’ Editorial Board is committed to advancing research in the areas of occupational exposure and health, by purposely fostering research that accounts for differences among workers, including those by sex or gender, amongst other factors. As thought leaders in their field, the Board recognises there is a growing need for new approaches to considering gender and sex, plus – occupational studies need to utilise new and more comprehensive methods for modelling, and data analyses, in order to understand the sources of these gender differences and to effect necessary improvements in workplace health.

Noah Seixas, Chief Editor of the Annals, explained more about the rationale behind this special edition: “Clearly, there have been many important changes in the world of work, including the demographic profile of the workforce in recent decades: one area of the profile includes female labour force participation rates  – which have increased dramatically over the last 3 decades, although men and women still occupy very different segments of the labour market. Much of what we know about the relationships between work exposures and health outcomes has been generated in male-only or male-dominated samples.”

Noah expounded on the significant gap in this research area: “While researchers have typically stratified analysis by sex, the papers submitted for our special edition show that a more nuanced analysis is required.  For example, research is needed on: metrics of gender and sex diversity; using data sets with large study populations evaluated to account for gender and sex diversity; methodologies; and even terminology.  Only one study used inclusive language in their exposure and health assessment questionnaire, in order that transgendered women could participate.”

Simon Festing, CEO of BOHS, commented: “The changing landscape of workplace health presents many challenges for occupational hygienists: therefore, ongoing research is vital, in order that health and safety professionals can keep up to date and help ensure a healthy working environment for everyone. As BOHS celebrates its 65th year, it’s excellent news that our international editorial collaboration is not only continuing, but is also delivering pioneering and important research and advancement – ensuring that occupational hygiene remains relevant in these challenging times”.

The Annals Board has been very encouraged by the response to its call for papers, and has reported a high volume of submissions received. From these submissions, 10 papers will be included in the special issue, papers that report occupational exposure and epidemiology studies from six countries. Noah said: “I’m extremely pleased with this outcome.  As a group, the papers demonstrate not only the importance of considering sex and gender, but also provide some novel study designs, and methods that should enable other researchers to build on.”  Co-editors of this special Annals issue are Peter Smith (Senior Scientist and CIHR Chair in Gender, Work and Health, at the Institute for Work and Health, Toronto) and Professor Margaret Quinn (Lowell Center for Sustainable Production, Department of Public Health, University of Massachusetts, Lowell).  They have highlighted several fundamental outcomes from the study, the main one being that women and men experience not only differences in occupational exposures and health, but that this occurs throughout all stages of their working lives. You can read more in-depth information about these outcomes in this special edition of the Annals, which is scheduled for publication online on 18 April 2018. Further information on the background to the issue can be accessed here.