Gender: to ask, or not to ask?
After receiving some feedback from several Destination Managers, Greeters and Visitors, the issue of Gender in the context of data collection was raised again.
As you know, we ask for gender in our forms including the "Book a Greeter" and "Become a Greeter" forms.
To start with, let me tell you that one of my pet hates is finding a question in any form for which the answer is irrelevant or not utilised for some analysis or functionality. If you do not use the data; DON'T ASK THE QUESTION!
So why do we currently ask Visitors and Greeters to disclose their gender?
The Greeter concept is Global and covers continents and countries with diverse cultural backgrounds. In Western societies, it is no longer relevant to ask for things like age, gender, religious believes or anything else that is in essence private and has no barring on the performance of the individual. In Western culture, gender is irrelevant.
In other cultures, gender still plays a big role in the day-to-day live of many. We may disagree with this fact based on our own believes but this may be seen as being cultural insensitivity. For example, a female Visitor may prefer a stroll with somebody of the same gender because it make her more comfortable or it is a social moray she wants (or must) to follow. The destination may find this inconsistent with their own cultural believes as the gender of the Greeter will have no bearing on the performance of the Greeter and the destination may be correct in saying that. However, the intended "inclusive" approach may in fact have the opposite effect as often the female visitor will withdraw from the process thereby excluding her from the Greeter experience. So the question is then; how can we best influence others and make the world a better place? Clearly by being inclusive and by one Greet at the time... So the current system can, where requested, match Visitors with Greeters of a specific Gender in a very pragmatic approach.
Knowing our membership
A secondary reason to ask for gender may be to better understand our membership. This is data used holistically without disclosing any individual's gender.
- it may be important to know that 65% of visitors are male. This may be important to third parties that may offer goods and services to our membership. For example, if a travel bag manufacturer whats to offer a 50% discount on one of its men's shoulder bags then they would like to know if this approach will reach their target market.
- we may find that our membership only has 8% female Greeters. This poses the question "why?" and allows us to investigate the reasons and instigate strategies to counter this imbalance
But be assured that this is holistic data. Personal gender specific data will never be passed on to any third parties or used for any other reason.
The gender issue also has a second tier...
If we decide to include the gender data in our functionality for the reasons explained above, then is asking the binary question of male / female enough?
Particularly in modern Western culture, recognition of diversity and the drive to be inclusive has led to questions about gender that have taken on a different look. It is now common to see choices like:
- Trans man
- Trans woman
- Gender fluid
But we need to return to the original idea of "if you do not use the data, then do not ask for it.
One of the compromises we can implement is simply to add one other option to the question of gender. This may simply be "Rather not say" or something like this:
- Rather not say
But we are just the administrators implementing your views so let us know what you think!
Start the discussion below...