Gender Survey Questions Gender Survey

Crafting Inclusive Gender Survey Questions


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A survey questionnaire is one of the ways that enables you to connect to a larger audience. At times, making use of survey questions based on demography is required to fully comprehend the data as it adds to the depth of your research. In a demographic survey, gender and age are two of the most often requested questions. 

Survey questions revolving around gender could be sensitive because people no more fit into the preconceived gender stereotypes. Gone are those days where surveys could be conducted by selecting one of the two basic binary gender options. It has become extremely important to be more gender-inclusive these days, whilst being mindful of not hurting anyone.

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What are Gender Survey Questions?

Gender survey questions are often asked to determine the gender of a person. Gender survey questions could be a part of various kinds of surveys, including market research. 

Knowing the gender of the respondents could serve as a parameter and help surveys understand how gender influences the choices of an individual. 

When asking gender-specific questions, it is important to frame the questions such that they do not come across as offensive while simultaneously creating a sense of belonging to people of all genders. Understanding the context in which these questions are being asked will help to create a more thoughtful survey. 

Let us walk through a few terms to consider before designing gender questions in a survey.

  • Sex – The biological attributes of an individual are referred to as sex. It is the identity assigned at the time of birth based on the chromosomes and other medical factors. 
  • Gender – Gender refers to an individual’s perception of themselves as male, female, or of a different gender. Gender identity refers to how a person identifies themselves, irrespective of the sex assigned to them at birth. 
  • Transgender – It is an umbrella term that is used to describe people who do not identify with the gender assigned to them at birth.

Importance of Gender Questions in a survey

The purpose of  a survey is to let people know that they are heard and their opinion is valued.  Surveys can provide more valuable data if the questions are asked consciously. Asking gender questions in a survey could provide an insight into patterns among different gender categories. These questions help to determine how gender impacts the choices of an individual, thereby having an impact on the survey. 

At times, surveys are conducted for specific gender categories. Knowing the gender identity allows you to screen out participants in the beginning itself. 

Let us take an example here,

Consider a clothing brand running a survey to improve its marketing strategies by collecting feedback from the customers. Here, a male customer will have different feedback than a female customer. Similarly, other gender categories such as transgender will also have an opinion. The survey will be able to draw conclusions concerning specific categories of gender and marketers will be able to tailor marketing strategies to those segments. 

Gender surveys conducted in organizations could help them tailor their policies to provide a sense of inclusivity to people of all genders. Organizations can create an environment that encourages diversity, giving them an edge over their competitors.

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How to ask the Gender Question?

Often, questions are asked because they are considered as typical demographic questions, rather than because the data are of utmost importance. 

If gender is an important aspect of the survey and contributes to your research, offer questions in a way that respondents will feel a sense of belonging.

  • Understand why you’re asking the question

The first and foremost factor to consider is the reason behind conducting the survey. A few questions that could help are:

  1. How will the information collected be used?
  2. What measures will be taken to protect the data? 
  3. Are there restrictions on the collection of demographic data? If yes, do thorough research. 
  • Consider keeping the question as an optional one

Allow the respondent to choose whether or not to answer the question. There could be a “prefer not to answer” option so that they can opt-out of the question.

  • Keep the options more gender-inclusive

The response options to a gender question in a survey should not be limited to male or female. The answer choices that can be given in a gender question are listed below:

  • Female
  • Male
  • Trans-girl
  • Trans-boy
  • Non-binary
  • Gender fluid
  • Androgynous
  • Bigender
  • Avoid giving too many gender options

While we emphasize the significance of gender diversity, we also don’t want to overwhelm responders with too many options. Gender categories are evolving, which could make it difficult to determine which ones should be included. Using the complete list in surveys is certainly not an option.

We’ve listed below two types of gender questions that could be used in your surveys. 

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Types of Gender Questions to use in Surveys

  • Close Ended Questions

A close-ended question usually provides the respondents with several response options to choose from. One of the most prevalent types of closed-ended questions is a multiple-choice question.

A close-ended question could be framed as follows:

What gender do you identify as?

  • Male
  • Female
  • Transgender
  • Prefer not to answer
  • Other

The above question sounds more inclusive, giving the respondents a choice to not answer the question.

  • Open-Ended Questions

Open-ended questions do not restrict the participants to a set of prepared responses. They allow the respondents to be more expressive by giving them an option to provide lengthy answers. These types of questions can be used to understand an individuals’ feelings.

Here’s an example of an open-ended question,

Gender ——–

Finally, keep in mind that when framing gender questions for surveys, it is vital to choose your words thoughtfully so that respondents will feel comfortable and safe sharing their thoughts. 

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