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Mars and Venus: does gender matter in ageing?

Julie E Byles, Matthew Carroll and and the Mars and Venus Writing Team
Med J Aust 2008; 188 (5): 271-273.

Gender is more than just a variable to be controlled for in statistical analyses

Does ageing affect men and women equally? If not, how might differences affect research — and subsequently clinical practice? To answer this and related questions, the Mars and Venus: Does Gender Matter in Ageing? conference was convened by the University of Newcastle’s Research Centre for Gender, Health and Ageing, in association with the Australian Association of Gerontology and the Healthy Ageing Theme of the Australian Research Council/National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Research Network in Ageing Well.1 The 2-day conference, held in Newcastle in July 2007, featured longitudinal studies of ageing that have given specific attention to the health of men or the health of women, and introduced an NHMRC-funded initiative to link two of these studies. The conference also included a 1-day research workshop, sponsored by the Ageing Well Network, which involved researchers from longitudinal studies of ageing being conducted in Australia, and considered how such studies might take greater account of gender in their design and analysis. The conference attracted 85 participants from across Australia and overseas, who came together to consider ways in which the effects of ageing are unequal between men and women, and how these differences might be further exaggerated through interactions with socieconomic status and background.

  • Julie E Byles1
  • Matthew Carroll2
  • and the Mars and Venus Writing Team

  • 1 Research Centre for Gender, Health and Ageing, Faculty of Health, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW.
  • 2 ARC/NHMRC Research Network in Ageing Well, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW.


Acknowledgements: 

This report was prepared by Julie Byles, Matthew Carroll and the Mars and Venus Writing Team on behalf of the conference participants. The Mars and Venus Writing Team includes: Bob Cumming, Leon Flicker, Gary Wittert, Annette Dobson, Emily Banks, Gita Mishra, Cherry Russell and Jo Wainer. The Mars and Venus conference was convened by the Research Centre for Gender, Health and Ageing in association with the Australian Association of Gerontology and the Healthy Ageing Theme of the Australian Research Council/National Health and Medical Research Council Network in Ageing Well. Gita Mishra’s travel from the United Kingdom was supported by the central hub of the ARC/NHMRC Network in Ageing Well (http://www.ageingwell.edu.au).

Competing interests:

None identified.

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