There’s a great new post up over at SWS’s Gender and Society page describing a recent study of the deployment of sex and gender categories in U.S. surveys. The results are troubling and illuminating. Here’s a taste:
One surprising finding is that when these surveys are conducted face-to-face or by telephone Americans are not asked to self-identify their sex or gender at all. Instead, the survey interviewer determines the category for the people they interview. The box for “male” or “female” gets checked off based on an unstated set of criteria that could include anything from their name, their voice, their dress or physical appearance, or their relationship to other people in their household. Occasionally, interviewers are instructed to ask a direct question, but only if the person’s sex or gender “is not obvious.” Even then, it is often presumed that asking someone this question will be awkward, likely because of the belief that a person’s sex or gender should be obvious.