November 21st, 2022

Key Points Discussed

  • Gender ≠ Sex
  • Gender data being reported today is actually sex data, meaning biological sex.


  • Sex: a multidimensional construct based on a cluster of genetic, physiological, and anatomical sex traits. For example, this could be based on external genitalia and chromosomes.
    • Data collection: Ask questions like “What is your sex on your birth certificate?”
    • Options for answers: Male/Female
  • Gender: a multidimensional construct that links
    (1) the expectations and characteristics set forth by society on behaviors, norms and established roles associated with sex traits, and
    (2) an individual’s gender identity and expression
    • Data collection: Ask questions like “How do you describe your gender identity?”
    • Options for answers: Male/Female/Transgender/Nonbinary/Gender nonconforming/None of the above

Action Item: We can collect sex data at birth, then supplement/modify to gender data as data is collected over the life course (marriage/divorce registries, death registries, household data, etc.)

Words that mean gender in different languages

  • Género is used in Latin America and the Caribbean, with Spanish-speaking countries
  • Ling is used in Hindi, no distinction between sex and gender
  • Genre is used in French
  • Ubulili besilisa is used for men and Ubulili besifazane is used for women in Zulu (South Africa)

Challenges to Integrating Gender into Data Collection Systems

  • Heteronormativity
  • Gender transformation in difficult contexts, such as rigid laws, cultural and social barriers, identity withdrawal

Resources shared