The Terms Sex and Gender in Language and Gender Research


  • Is a biological category.

  • Denotes biological sex: the distinction between females and males defined in biological terms.

  • => The classification as male or female is determined by specific biological characteristics at birth: we are born either female or male.


  • Is a social category or label. It describes the socio-cultural concept of what is considered female and male.

  • This concept entails the fulfilment of specific social roles which are typically ascribed to women and men and associated with female and male behaviour (= gender roles).

  • => We become socialized as females or males. In this process, we learn the rules of female and male behaviour which constitute our gender roles and shape our behaviour and mindset.