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Sex and Gender

Sex is one of the protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010. The Act aims to protect people from direct and indirect discrimination, harassment, and victimisation on the basis of sex.

Find support, initiatives, and guidance relating to sex and gender here.



Since the creation of the Equality Act terminology on ED&I issues has changed and progressed. At Warwick we use the term 'gender', as opposed to 'sex', when talking about equality issues relating to sex/gender:

  • Sex is a label assigned at birth based on attributes such as chromosomes, hormones, and external and internal anatomy. Sex is the term used in the Equality Act 2010, specifically to refer to men and women.
  • Gender is non-biological and can refer to social constructions of acceptable or desirable attitudes and behaviours based on sex (also known as gender roles e.g. women as homemakers and men as breadwinners), or a person’s internal sense of their own identity and what feels right for them, this might be male, female, non-binary, genderless, or some other gender identity. You can find more information about gender identity on the Trans and Gender Reassignment webpage.

Sex is the legal term, and as such when discussing the Equality Act we refer to this term. However, beyond this, we use the more inclusive term 'gender' in our work on sex/gender equality.


Definition of 'Sex' in the Equality Act

In the Equality Act, the protected characteristic of sex refers to men and women. There is currently no recognition of non-binary identities in the Equality Act.

Under the Equality Act, sex discrimination applies at all ages and therefore covers girls and boys, as well as men and women.


The statistics and infographic are from our Equality Monitoring Annual Report. If you'd like to know more about why we collect personal and protected characteristic information, have a look at the Equality Monitoring: Why Share Your Personal Information? webpage.

Photo by ThisIsEngineering from Pexels. Colour filter added to original.

You may also be interested in:

ED&I Newsletter

Support, initiatives, and guidance relating to sex and gender

Training and Learning

Charters - including Athena Swan (gender equality Charter)

Taskforces and SIC - including Gender Task Force


Gender Initiatives


External links

You can find more information about sex/gender and the law from the following sources:

Advance HE - Equality Legislation

EHRC - Sex Discrimination

Acas - Sex Discrimination

Citizens Advice - Discrimination Because of Sex