AERA Expands Gender Category Options for Member
AERA Expands Gender Category Options for Member
 
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April 2016

Beginning in 2017, AERA members will have the option to select from an expanded list of gender categories when renewing their membership or joining the Association. Recognizing that the traditional gender category options of “female,” “male,” and “other gender” fail to capture the full spectrum of gender identities and expressions, AERA Council approved the use of a new gender identity question and an expanded set of gender categories at its February 2016 meeting. AERA’s demographic data collection will now include five gender categories, as follows:

Which best describes your gender identity?

  • Female/Woman
  • Male/Man
  • Transgender Female/Transgender Woman
  • Transgender Male/Transgender Man
  • Another gender identity (please specify): ____________________

This updated question and expanded categories go beyond the biological female and male identities to include transgender as well as man and woman, terms that tend to be defined by one’s culture or society. Members also have the option of selecting “another gender identity” and specifying their gender. This charge will enable AERA to examine how individuals identify themselves and allow the Association to craft response options in the future to capture these expanded gender identities. Responding to the gender identity question on membership forms remains optional.

“In addition to using gender demographics for membership and research purposes, the expanded and enhanced gender categories send a message of inclusion to individuals of all gender identities within the Association,” said AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine. 

AERA developed these gender categories after exploring how peer research societies categorize gender and conducting a comprehensive literature review. AERA staff solicited guidance and input from members of the Committee on Scholars & Advocates for Gender Equity in Education (SAGE), the Social Justice Action Committee, and the Queer Studies SIG, as many of these scholars and researchers are well published and noted experts on gender issues. Staff also engaged in discussions with federal agencies to learn to what extent and how the collection of gender data is being rethought in major federal data collections or funded studies.

The changes implemented to the gender categories are part of a larger effort begun in 2013 to update and improve the data AERA collects about the demographic characteristics of its members. In addition to data on gender identity, AERA collects other member demographics such as race/ethnicity, degrees earned, and age in order to understand and describe the composition of its membership. A similar expansion of the race/ethnicity categories was recently implemented to reflect the diverse and multiple racial and ethnic groups AERA members represent. These expanded categories enable AERA to examine and report on member demographics overall, as well as by Division, SIG, and Committee. Member demographics are reported to AERA Council and the Affirmative Action representatives in each Division to examine overall trends in AERA’s membership and participation in Association activities such as the Annual Meeting.

In some cases, membership data are used for research purposes, such as efforts to understand the field and profession of education research. Regardless of how the data are being used, AERA holds to a high standard of data security and research ethics. Individual member information is kept confidential and only reported in aggregate form. AERA does not report gender identities or other demographic information where there are a small number of cases that might inadvertently identify specific members.

 
 
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