The one thing that working with personality profiling for twenty odd years teaches you is that we all have our own paradigm of the world. This is determined by our personality type and by our experience of the world.
However, knowing about paradigm, in theory, does not make it any easier for any individual to shift paradigm and see the world as another may see it. We are very stuck in our own world view.
As a cis man or woman — someone whose gender was assigned as such at birth and hardly shifted – you may never have considered the issue of gender before because it is so automatic for you. It is outwith your experience and your paradigm.
When a cis man or woman is faced with a form that asks their gender, it’s an easy tick box that requires no thought. Yet for some, this question raises a lot of issues and is far from simple to answer.
In some cases, this question may even upset someone or trigger something painful or frustrating.
I don’t believe any of us set out to upset anyone when designing a form. At PeopleMaps we want to do what we can to ensure that we do not upset anyone, which is why we are looking more closely at gender diversity and inclusion when designing our forms.
Even the biggest companies on the planet have not addressed the issue of gender and routinely ask;
Times Are Changing
Research shows a huge difference in the attitudes of 13 – 20-year-olds when it comes to gender than for people 21 and older.
Research with 13-20-year-olds revealed that;
- 80% did not believe that gender defines you as much as it used to
- 56% knew someone that used gender-neutral pronouns.
- 70% strongly believed that gender-neutral bathrooms should be made available in public spaces
Where I expect attitudes in people over 40 are probably nothing like the above, there is probably a growing change. Education and awareness affect how we perceive the issue of gender, even if we do not have much in the way of direct experience.
We Are All Learning
Researching this article wasn’t the beginning of my education into gender and diversity but it certainly helped me start to notice things that I had not considered before.
For instance, I am more aware when I see gender-neutral bathrooms. I see how it reflects on my opinion of the venue if they offer this. Interestingly I see venues that offer this as progressive and considerate. It raises my personal opinion of them.
It is my hope that people who see a gender-sensitive form will also have a higher opinion of the organisation behind it too.
Why Are You Asking
After reading a few articles I realised that our form was asking the wrong question.
Does PeopleMaps need to know about an individual’s gender?
My research prompted the most obvious question, “why are you asking for their gender?”
What I realised is that PeopleMaps does not need to know an individual’s gender as this has no impact on the psychology of personality profiling.
What we realised is that the question we should actually be asking is “What pronoun do you prefer us to use?”
This is actually the information we need, purely because most reports are written using either male or female pronouns.
The Insufficiency Of The Engish Language
The English language doesn’t cope well with gender-neutral as a concept and therefore it is not dealt with well in the language. Other languages may fair better as some use male, female and neuter.
I increasingly use “they” as a gender-neutral pronoun, which is frowned upon in terms of grammar. However, “they/their/theirs” was commonly used to refer to the singular up until the Victorian era.
Language is always evolving and changing and it is only a matter of time before the English language is better equipped to deal with gender more sympathetically.
We are still experimenting with “they/their/theirs” but most reports are still written in traditional English and are therefore written as male or female.
PeopleMaps has also added a feature called “Gender-neutral” which is designed not to reveal the gender of a job candidate as either male or female. It actually delivers a mix of male and female topics, so if the name does not reveal the candidate’s gender, then neither does the report.
This feature is useful for organisations that want to introduce a recruitment process that is less gender-biased by not revealing the gender of the candidate in the personality report.
What’s Changed At PeopleMaps
The standard PeopleMaps registration form that appears at the end of the personality questionnaire, no longer asks the candidate their sex or gender. Instead, it asks for their preferred pronoun and provides a drop-down list of options including examples;
Your preferred pronoun
- He / His / Him (eg: Wish him good luck)
- She / Hers / Her (eg: Wish her good luck)
- They/their/theirs (eg: Wish them good luck)
When writing new content we are looking to now include They/their/theirs versions. We are also looking at editing existing content to give a version of They/their/theirs.
Changes You May Want To Consider
The chances are you may not need to know about an individual’s gender and in fact, all you need to know is their preferred pronoun.
What we have learned at PeopleMaps, is that asking someone’s gender and asking their preferred pronouns, are not the same question. Ask gender separately from preferred pronoun.
If you do need to ask someone’s gender, then please provide them with a very good reason for doing so.
If you are providing a list of options, then research this thoroughly as there are many terms used, some of which you may not be familiar with.
If you are asking about an individual’s sexual orientation, this is an entirely different question again. Do you need to ask? If so, please provide a good reason and a suitable list of options.