Inclusive Language in Research

Earlier this summer, CHRIM researchers and staff were part of an inclusive language workshop, led by CHRIM Research Assistant, Ilissa Mistry. Below is a blog highlighting pieces of Ilissa’s presentation, with an additional section featuring research on sex and gender terminology.

Inclusiveness and understanding are important pieces to conducting research that makes everyone feel welcome and included. In our research here at CHRIM, we strive to be inclusive of all people and continue to learn and educate ourselves on how to be an institute that is welcoming to everyone.

Inclusivity in research provides families with a sense of belongingness. It says, ‘We see you, and your story matters.

CHRIM Research Assistant Ilissa Mistry

When working with families, it’s important to remember that they are diverse and can be made up of many different people from moms and dads to aunts, uncles or friends. Families are more diverse than ever before. According to Statistics Canada, less households are made up of a “nuclear family” than there once was. The definition of family can be broadly defined as including 2 or more people who live in the same household or separately, who are committed to supporting each other and can be related by blood, marriage, adoption or other relationships. When meeting with families, we cannot assume that the adult with the child/ren holds a particular family role like mom, dad, grandma etc. You can always ask how an individual would like to be referred to or use non-gendered terms.

Table created by Ilissa Mistry, CHRIM Research Assistant

Beyond family structures, inclusivity surrounding chosen pronouns and gender-inclusive language can make all feel welcome and represented. A recent paper co-authored by CHRIM’s Dr. Leslie Roos about sex and gender terminology discusses how a proper understanding of sex and gender as well as acknowledgment and inclusion of diverse gender identities can make epidemiology more equitable but also more scientifically accurate and representative.

Infographic created by University of Manitoba’s Dr. Charlie Rioux

When we use inclusive language, it shows our acceptance and understanding that all families and people are unique and different. By using inclusive language, it avoids potentially hurt feelings that can come from assumptions that can lead to individuals not feeling included or accepted.

For more resources and information you can visit the following websites:

The Vanier Institute of the Family

Rainbow Resource Centre