Gender in the General Social Survey: Beyond Categorical Measurement

Awarded Scholars:
Aliya Saperstein, Stanford University
Laurel Westbrook, Grand Valley State University
Project Date:
Jun 2019
Award Amount:

There is increasing interest in having data that recognize gender diversity by offering non-binary response options on surveys and official data collection. Much attention has focused on “third gender” or “third sex” categories that acknowledge the existence of transgender and intersex people. Several states, including California, now allow non-binary responses on birth certificates and documents such as driver’s licenses. However, simply adding new categories does not address the limitations of conventional approaches to measuring these concepts. What is missing are measures that allow for diversity and fluidity within gender categories, and recognize that people’s gender identities do not necessarily reflect how others perceive them. To expand survey measures, sociologists Aliya Saperstein and Laurel Westbrook will buy time on the 2020 General Social Survey (GSS) for four questions that ask how respondents see themselves and how they think others see them on paired femininity and masculinity scales. 



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