Gender in alcohol research and policy

Members of the DruGS program, in collaboration with colleagues from universities in Australia, Canada and Sweden, are conducting an international comparative study analysing the treatment of gender in research and policy on alcohol and violence. Funded by the Australian Research Council, this project includes interviews with researchers and policy stakeholders about alcohol and violence among young people, and the ways gender is handled in research practice and policy development.

The project has recently reached a significant milestone with the completion of recruitment and data collection in all three countries. Eighty-five researchers and policy stakeholders across the three countries – 42 researchers and 43 policy experts – have been interviewed. A considerable technical and logistical accomplishment given the impact of COVID-19, the interview stage involved staff in Melbourne and Stockholm.

Interviewees were asked about how and to what extent gender issues figured in deliberations on young people, alcohol and violence in night-time settings. For researchers, this included asking about the methodological challenges of researching alcohol and violence when data sets are large and information about violent events is limited. For policy stakeholders, interviews explored the extent to which gender is perceived to be relevant to the issue of alcohol and violence, and whether it is possible to take it into account when formulating policy responses.

An unexpected early finding of this aspect of the project is that concerns about alcohol, violence and gender are assembled differently in Australia, Sweden and Canada. In Canada, for example, researchers and policy stakeholders are beginning to think critically about gender since the federal government moved to embed ‘Gender-Based Analysis’ in all its policies and programs to ensure the experiences of women, men and non-binary people are all considered.

The project team, and wider DruGS team, are very grateful to those who have shared their insights and participated in the project thus far. The interview data are now being analysed and publications are being prepared in anticipation of stakeholder workshops in 2021 where the key findings and recommendations from the project will be presented.

The project team

Chief investigators:

  • Prof David Moore, Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University
  • Prof Helen Keane, School of Sociology, The Australian National University

Partner investigators:

Project staff:

  • Dr Duane Duncan, Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University
  • Emily Lenton, School of Sociology, The Australian National University
  • Gina Mejdell Bjerland & Nicklas Dennermalm, Department of Social Work, Stockholm University

*Image credit: