This contribution is a reply to Dr. Månsdotter’s comments on our discussion paper ‘Health and well-being in old age: the pertinence of a gender mainstreaming approach in research’ published in Gerontology [Gerontology 2010 (in press)]. Even though the comments are interesting and comprehensible, they cannot be left unanswered, this primarily because they are based on weak empirical evidence. (1) It is broadly uncontested that gender is not static. However, the conclusion that the more egalitarian division of parental duties can be viewed as an indicator for reduction of the gender gap in longevity and health is highly speculative. There is not enough empirical evidence to substantiate this position. (2) The ‘caring hypothesis’ proposed by Månsdotter, which holds that caring fathers develop less risky lifestyles and increased worries, is a possible, but not a sufficient explanation for gender convergence of physical and psychological health in future generations. Such a convergence seems to be heavily co-determined by the changing lifestyles of women. (3) From a lifespan developmental perspective, androgyny does not mean gender equality, but a necessary openness of an individual for the positive traits of the opposing gender role, an essential trait for successful ageing. (4) Månsdotter’s doubts concerning the implementation of gender mainstreaming in gerontological research and practice because of society’s limited resources are not comprehensible. Exactly because economical resources are limited, and exactly because men and women have different resources and disadvantages due to their specific bio-psycho-social realities, the most efficient way of dealing with the gender gaps in health is with a differentialapproach. (5) The concluding recommendation of Månsdotter for more openness as a scientific position regarding the impact of gender roles on human health and well-being stands in contrast to her claim for normative standpoints and prioritization of either women or men in health promotion. We certainly need openness as a scientific position, but what we urgently need are good theoretical frameworks and more interdisciplinary and longitudinal approaches, which help to overcome the thin empirical base we have. This is a challenge and a chance for future research.

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