Understanding different genders’ unique viewpoints and experiences is critical for businesses, researchers, and organizations in the modern age. When conducting surveys or questionnaires, it is critical to include gender survey questions that are respectful, inclusive, and yield meaningful insights.
In this blog, we will discuss the significance of gender questionnaires and give you a strategy for creating inclusive and effective gender questionnaires.
What is the gender survey question?
Gender survey questions are a questionnaire that is asked of a participant to understand what is the gender of the respondent.
Analysis of the survey responses and considering gender as a parameter will enable a researcher to evaluate how gender plays a role in the participant’s choices and help him deduce a pattern.
Gender questionnaire questions are used in various types of research, such as business, social science research, etc. A survey question is one of the various types of survey questions that are most commonly asked in surveys.
Previously, only male and female options used to appear in such questions. However, with so many policies coming into place and with people accepting their genders freely, there are many more options. Gender questionnaire questions are sensitive. However, these can enable the researcher to analyze their data more accurately in their questionnaires.
With the growing importance of gender equality, it is important to phrase these questions in such a way that they do not offend any participants and provide a sense of inclusiveness to all gender categories.
Importance of gender survey questions in a Questionnaire
A good survey design means it will accomplish two things: accuracy and inclusiveness. A questionnaire has to be designed so that it can collect accurate data using the best practices for survey designs and be inclusive at the same time.
The questionnaire’s objective should be to make the participant feel that their opinion matters and will be valued as much as any other participant, without any biases.
LEARN ABOUT: Conformity Bias
The old method, where the gender questionnaire provided only two options, namely male and female, suggests that everyone falls under only these two categories, which is against the two things mentioned above.
It suggests discrimination against transgender and non-conforming respondents, and many times the results achieved will not be accurate as there was no option given to the respondent. However, using a five-category question or a multi-step approach for gender data allows the participant to choose from various categories and also has the freedom to write an open-ended response.
Such an option provides the researcher with much more accurate data and makes the respondent feel valued and respected. Furthermore, it will also increase the response rate for the questionnaire because the participant does not feel he is forced to answer certain questions, especially if they are private.
While conducting a survey, it doesn’t hurt to know your survey respondents a little more, like their age, sex, gender, etc. Questions based on gender have a precious impact on the results. It will enable you to derive results and study behavioral patterns according to gender and to make wise decisions for the purpose you are conducting your research.
Asking gender questions enables you to ensure that your sample is representative or to study the gender effects on your research. Thus, using the age-old methods of asking gender questions of two options, if not altered, will keep giving you statistical data, which is not accurate, skipping important variations of responses based on gender and limiting understanding of the research.
Why is there a need for more than two gender options in a questionnaire?
Today’s social science research, public issues regarding gender discrimination, the rising consciousness of gender equality, and the movements around the world elucidate that giving two options or categorizing humans into two categories is outdated and ethically wrong.
Furthermore, considering the purpose of the survey, the analyses can be much more accurate if the demographic questions can be segmented into more than two categories.
For example, A cosmetic brand wants to survey to gather feedback about one of their products to help them market their product appropriately, depending on the audience. The feedback from a male will be different than that of a female.
Furthermore, other categories, such as transgender, will also have a different opinion about the product and are also a considerable target audience for the cosmetic brand.
Hence, a survey including gender questions having multiple choice options will give the company much more accurate data and make it easier to segment its audience and carry out appropriate marketing strategies based on the gender of the participants.
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Transgender is an important category now!
In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of transgenders, and they accommodate a significant portion of the population now.
According to a 2016 study conducted in the United States, it was observed that 0.6% of all adults, or about 1.4 million people identify as transgender. So, on average, it is wise to expect that if a survey is sent to 500 participants, there will be at least 3 transgenders among them. Also, some states in the US have a higher density of transgender than 0.6%.
Furthermore, it has also been proven that transgender is not a trait you get once you are an adult, but it is a deeply held identity right from childhood. Hence, addressing transgender in gender questionnaire is vital to get accurate demographic information without offending the participants and also showcases non-discrimination.
Furthermore, multiple gender categories are evolving; hence, we can see many survey designers trying to implement these in their surveys. With so many options, it has become difficult for survey researchers to understand the need to collect valuable demographic data and balance it with appropriate gender choices.
Although, while wording the question, a researcher has to ensure not to offend the participant and be respectful.
Following is an example of the number of choices that can be given in a gender choice question:
- Young man
- Young woman
- Agender (no gender identity)
- Androgynous (not one specific sex)
- Gender fluid (different genders at different times)
- Bigender (two gender identities)
- Demi girl (partly girl)
- Demiboy (partly boy)
- Non-binary (not male or female)
- Genderqueer (non-traditional gender distinction)
- Trigender (shifts in three genders)
- Intersex (physical, hormonal, or genetic features of male
- Not Sure
- Rather not say
- Other (please specify)
Considering the long list of genders accepted in today’s world, it is difficult to understand which have to be included and which are not.
Although inclusivity of all options is vital, certainly, you cannot use the entire list, as surveys cannot be monotonous or exhaustive and should not take much time for the participant.
Moreover, you have a legal obligation to collect only the needed information.
With data collection compliances (GDPR) coming into place, there will be tighter regulations to handle sensitive personal information. To understand when, how, and why to use a gender question for a questionnaire, you need to ask the following questions to yourself before designing a survey.
- Is there a need to ask the question at all?
- Should I ask about orientation and gender identity?
- How do I word my question?
- Does asking the question provide any business value?
One major confusion many people face is understanding the distinction between sex, sexual orientation, and gender. A researcher has to make sure the three questions are addressed separately. The distinction between these three points is as follows:
This refers to the anatomical characteristic of a person. When asking these questions, you should use options such as Male, Female, and Intersex.
Gender identity refers to what the person feels he is in a psychological sense, regardless of what sex a person was assigned at birth.
Sexual orientation questions
This refers to emotional, physical, and sexual attraction to other people and does not fall under the gender question category but is affiliated with it. Words like gay/lesbian, bisexual/pansexual, and heterosexual can be used to discuss sexual preference. Please note it is advised not to use homosexual as it is frowned upon by most people.
Best practices for asking gender questions in a questionnaire
There are many ways a gender identity question can be worded to suit specific needs. A couple of approaches can be used to ask current gender identity questions in a survey.
If you find there is a need to ask a gender question, the following can be used.
- What is your gender?
- Others (Please specify)
- Rather not say
- Are you transgender?
- Other (Please specify)
- Rather not say
- If you are transgender, what was your sex-assigned status at birth?
- Not applicable
- Others (Please specify)
- Rather not say
Using this approach enables a researcher to include transgender categories and also gives enough importance to mention any other gender identity.
Moreover, using a multi-step approach is much faster to complete for a participant than using a single-step approach. Furthermore, adding ‘rather not say’ gives the participant a feeling that this is voluntary and not a forced question, which can give a good response rate for the survey.
If needed, an open-ended question can be asked.
You may need to conduct text analysis for such a question; however, it is all-inclusive and will allow the participant to choose their own identity.
Apart from the decision to choose the approach, there are a few points that a researcher should not forget while using gender questions in a questionnaire. The following points will help you create a good survey design.
- Make sure you can justify why you are asking the question.
- Take into account the privacy and comfort of your participant over anything else.
- Maintain data security.
- Maintain anonymity of personal data.
- Try and include open-ended questions to give enough freedom to explain who they are.
- All gender questions are optional.
Understanding and recognizing our varied cultures requires gender-related questions in questionnaires. We can better understand gender identity-related issues by conducting inclusive and comprehensive questionnaires. Remember to offer options for different identities and respect respondents’ wishes to withhold information.
QuestionPro is a popular online survey platform offering various features and tools for designing and delivering surveys, including the ability to add gender survey questionnaires. You may use QuestionPro to create surveys that target gender-related themes and collect vital data. Let’s work toward a world where gender identity is celebrated and accepted.
Frequently Asking Questions
Woman, man, transgender, and non-binary are gender-category responses. Chromosomes, hormones, and secondary traits define sex. Male, female, and intersex are typical sex response options.
Gender questions in surveys may reveal gender tendencies. The survey is affected by these gender-related questions. Gender-specific surveys are sometimes done.