From the Desk of the Executive Director—AERA to Further Refine Gender Demographic Categories
From the Desk of the Executive Director—AERA to Further Refine Gender Demographic Categories

May 2016

In the April issue of AERA Highlights, AERA announced that members would soon have the option to select from an expanded list of gender identity categories when renewing their membership or joining the association. After release of the April issue, I received some very thoughtful comments, especially from scholars in AERA’s Queer Studies SIG, directed to further altering the choices to better reflect the association’s goals and intent.  

Based on this feedback, I, along with key members of the AERA staff, concluded that the association would benefit from additional feedback from the AERA membership and the research community before returning to AERA Council to reexamine the topic. Our aim as an association is to ensure that the categories used for gender demographics reflect AERA’s commitment to inclusion as well as the full spectrum of gender identities.

On May 25, we convened a panel of experts to participate in a videoconference to develop a revised set of gender categories. Among the participants were education researchers and other scholars who study LGBTQ issues in education, including members of the Queer Studies SIG. 

The experts conferring by videoconference recommended a two-step approach to collecting data on gender: the first being the collecting of data on the biological sex assigned at birth, and the second asking members how they describe their gender. As with all other demographic questions, responses to these questions would not be required. The wording of the two questions would be as follows:  

Biological sex designated at birth (check all that apply):

  • Female
  • Male
  • Intersex
  • Biological sex not listed above (please specify):_______________
  • Prefer not to answer

Gender (check all that apply):

  • Agender
  • Cisgender Man
  • Cisgender Woman
  • Gender Expansive
  • Gender Fluid
  • Gender Non-Conforming
  • Genderqueer
  • Man
  • Non-Binary
  • Transgender
  • Trans Man
  • Trans Woman
  • Trans/Trans*/Trans+
  • Two-spirit
  • Woman
  • Gender not listed above (please specify):_____________
  • Prefer not to answer

AERA staff and our expert group thought that this revision would strengthen AERA demographic information and also might help scholars planning research to consider a more precise set of categories. We welcome feedback from the membership and others in the education research community about the proposed questions and response options. If you have citations from the literature or examples from other entities collecting gender demographics, we welcome your providing that information too.

Please send comments to by June 13, 2016. That timetable will allow us to examine the feedback and provide AERA Council with a further report and recommendations when it meets on June 24–25, 2016.

Thanks in advance for helping AERA to accomplish our ambitions.

Best wishes,

Felice J. Levine, PhD
Executive Director 
(202) 238-3201

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