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The term ‘sex’ in this context generally refers to a person’s anatomy, whereas ‘gender’ refers to the attitudes, feelings, and behaviours that a given culture associates with a specific biological sex. A person may identify strongly with one gender, multiple genders or none at all.

Sex and gender terms should not be used interchangeably.

Sex is a protected characteristic under the Eqaulity Act 2010, but gender is not.

You may find the following basic definitions useful to understand gender differences:

'Cis' denotes that a person's gender identify is the same as the gender associated with the sex they were assigned at birth. E.g. someone who was assigned male at birth, and identifies as a man, is a cis-man.

'Trans' denotes a person's gender identity is different to the gender associated with the sex they were assigned at birth. E.g. someone who was assigned male at birth, and who identifies as a woman, is a trans-woman.

'Non-binary' and 'genderfluid' refer to a spectrum of gender identities, not exclusively or limited to being a 'man' or a 'woman'.

Gender identity does not give any indication of biology, gender expression, or sexuality/sexual orientation.

A full glossary of terms is available here:

Glossary of Terms

Discrimination and Harassment

It is unlawful to discriminate against a person, on the basis of their sex, in the provision of goods, facilities and services and also in employment.

Direct discrimination is where a person is treated less favourably because of their sex.

Indirect discrimination is where an individual or group are put at a disadvantage because a requirement or condition is more onerous on persons of particular sex. 

Sexual harassment is unwanted conduct, including verbal, non-verbal or physical, that is sexual in nature and has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them. It is also harassment to treat a customer or employee less favourably because they have rejected or submitted to sexual harassment or harassment related to gender reassignment.

Nobody should be treated less favourably because of their sex or gender, but ‘favourably’ does not necessarily mean equally. For example, it is not less favourable to have different dress codes for different genders provided they are comparable and enforced to equal degree.

Gender Markers

When you complete an application to join the University you can select your preferred gender marker - this includes the gender neutral title 'Mx'.  Once employed by the University, you are able to amend your Other Forename(s) and Previous Surname via MyView, but if you would like to change your Title, Surname, Known-as Name, Date of Birth or National Insurance Number, please contact People & OD Services.

You can also indicate your pronoun on your e-mail account, Zoom and Teams screens.  More details can be found at this link.

Gender Equality and the Athena Swan Charter

The Athena Swan Charter is a scheme that recognises commitment to the advancement and promotion of gender equality in higher education and research.

The University is committed to advancing the charter.  The EDI Team's dedicated Athena Swan Coordinator can advise further.   To find out more visit:

Further reading: Our July 2020 blog

If you would like any further information on this or any other equality issue please contact the Equality and Diversity Team