Gender remains to be a controversial topic worldwide. There have been debates about one gender being favoured at the expense of the other in terms of either jobs or education. A country like the USA has its citizens debating on the number of genders. Most of its citizens believe there are only two genders. However, others claim that there are 72 genders. It has also been hard for married couples to agree on their roles and responsibilities. For instance, should a man cook or should a woman pay for the house rent?
The issue of gender comes about whenever a person is filling in any kind of form e.g. for a job or service they wish to acquire. Most forms ask about their gender. Some people feel uncomfortable stating their gender since they feel they may be judged or discriminated based on it. Also, the gender question may confuse an intersex person if they are asked whether they are male or female.
Following the many mentioned contentious issues surrounding gender, employers have had difficulty drafting job application forms. In most job application forms, you have to choose whether you are male or female. In the USA, some people will be outraged with such a form particularly those who believe more than 2 genders exist. The question thus becomes; how can recruiters ask about your gender respectfully in their application form? Below are some of the ways they could address the gender question.
Leaving gender out completely in the form
When you reflect hard on it, you will realize that asking someone what their gender is; is unnecessary. Anybody can perform a task so gender will not hinder their ability to perform. Other requirements like their education level are however relevant. It is impractical to hire a doctor who did not complete school. Unless you are seeking fashion models or actors/actresses, leave the gender question out if possible. Additionally, you can also gauge most people’s genders from their names e.g. John (Male) and Mary (Female). Job seekers have also been advised by recruiters to leave out their gender in their resumes. Gender is hardly a requirement in some fields.
Ask about their gender as an open-ended question
If you still feel strongly about their gender and do not wish to leave it out, ask the question in an open-ended way. By open-ended, I mean do not assign multiple choices. The applicant would be required to fill in the dash by themselves instead of ticking on the choices. A person filling this form will thus feel like their interests are taken into consideration as they are allowed to express themselves. Furthermore, including choices would be strenuous if you opted to go the USA way and include 72 genders.
Let the gender question be optional
Some organizations include the gender question as a tradition in the form, not because they want to know your gender. If the recruiters have decided to include the question in the form, they should make the question optional. In some online application forms, a person cannot proceed further to the next section of their application since the gender question is marked compulsory. Some job application forms get rejected simply because the applicant is coerced to reveal their gender in the form. The question should preferably be open-ended.
Include more options in the closed-ended question
Typically, you have to tick on the form whether you are male or female. A third option called “prefer not to say” could be included. This third option is friendly to those who:
• Are intersex.
• Fear their gender reveal will expose them to discrimination.
• Those who have chosen to identify with other genders other than male or female.
• Do not know their gender.
Some organizations have also tried to ask the gender question by including a list of 72 genders for one to choose from. Most companies find this method of asking the question tedious. Also, more and more genders have been formed. BBC as of 2019, released a film suggesting there are 100 genders. The list would occupy a lot of space on the website or need you to use so many papers if you are filling one offline. The third option earlier mentioned is thus sufficient, since you do not have to include 100 or 72 genders.
Another common option is included in the “custom” button. Under the custom button, the applicant is free to write the gender they have assigned themselves. This button also reduces the hassle needed to draft a list of 72 genders to choose from.
Some organizations ask for someone’s gender indirectly by asking them to indicate what pronoun they are; him or her. He or she still reveals your gender. Other institutions instead opt for the “they/them” option. The option applies to all genders, so you never have to worry about revealing your gender. The option is normally included as a third option or together with the “prefer not to say” section. Another gender-neutral pronoun that has been suggested is “ze” or “hir.”
We cannot fault organizations too much for including the gender question in their forms. Some companies ask your gender as a way of taking affirmative action measures. It is a legal requirement in most nations for an organization to hire a certain percentage of genders in the workforce to bring about equality. When an organization has too many men, the organization may want to hire more women and vice versa. Therefore, companies asking your gender is not offensive. Institutions only need to frame the gender question in an inoffensive way. The gender question when framed well boosts the image of the company.