Data Informing Governing Body Resistance-Training Guidelines Exhibit Sex Bias: An Audit-Based Review
The objective of this review was to examine the ratio of female and male participants utilised in data informing consensus statements and position stands in the field of resistance training (RT). In order to achieve this objective, we conducted an ‘audit’ style review. We accessed three databases: SPORTDiscus, MEDLINE and Google Scholar utilising the following search terms: resistance or strength training AND consensus statements or position statements/stands. Eligibility criteria included consensus statements and position stands for RT in youth, adults and older adults. In this paper we have used the term ‘female’ to describe biological sex. Gender is a social construct and often describes roles and behaviours that society assigns to men or women. In this paper we have used the term ‘women’ to describe gender. Reference lists from each guideline were screened with the number of male and female participants extracted from each study. We also extracted data on the gender of the authors of the statements. We located 11 guidelines encompassing a total of 104,251,363 participants. Youth guidelines were comprised of 69% male participants. There were 287 studies that included both sexes, 205 male-only and 92 female-only studies. Adult guidelines were comprised of 70% male participants. There were 104 studies that included both sexes, 240 male-only and 44 female-only studies. Older adult guidelines were comprised of 54% female participants. There were 395 studies that included both sexes, 112 male-only and 83 female-only studies. Women authors comprised 13% of all authors of position stands and consensus statements. These results demonstrate an under-representation of females and women as both participants and as authors. It is imperative to ensure that data informing governing body guidelines and consensus statements are representative of the population they aim to inform. If this is not possible, guidelines should clearly state when their data and recommendations are based primarily upon one sex.
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