Inclusion of females does not increase variability in rodent research studies

Curr Opin Behav Sci. 2018 Oct:23:143-149. doi: 10.1016/j.cobeha.2018.06.016. Epub 2018 Aug 2.


The underrepresentation of female subjects in animal research has gained attention in recent years, and new NIH guidelines aim to address this problem early, at the grant proposal stage. Many researchers believe that use of females will hamper research because of the need for increased sample sizes, and increased costs. Here I review empirical research across multiple rodent species and traits that demonstrates that females are not more variable than males, and that for most traits, female estrous cyclicity need not be considered. I present statistical simulations illustrating how factorial designs can reduce the need for additional research subjects, and discuss cultural issues around the inclusion of male and female subjects in research.

Keywords: Sex; female; male; sex differences; sexual dimorphism; variability; variance.