Gender diversity: not code for ‘women’

A colourful graphic of five women with male and female symbols over them.
Picture Courtesy Teenvogue

When we talk of diversity we shouldn’t think of ‘left out groups’. That’s an ‘us including them’ approach. (Who is us anyway?) We should think ‘humanity’ in all its forms, colours, beliefs, sizes, ages, genders, wealth, geography, politics, and capabilities. Almost all people belong to multiple ‘left out groups’ at any one time. The term ‘diversity’ is often used in workplaces as code for people from different cultural backgrounds. But it is more than this. Likewise, gender diversity is not code for women.

Kiri Crossland’s short piece on Linked In is about gender equity in transport. She writes that focusing on the inequities between women and men serves to reinforce the gender binary. As more people become comfortable about declaring their non-binary identity, they will become more visible. Consequently, this is not an issue to ignore and we need to stop using the binary style thinking.

Crossland gives an example of how some women can feel safer on public transport with uniformed officers present. However, trans people are often the subject of negative experiences with police.  Consequently, making women feel safe is not the answer for everyone. Transport equity needs four things.

Transport equity

      1. Collect data: what kind of trips do gender non-conforming people make? How do they differ? Why?
      2. Challenge your assumptions and that of colleagues: engage with people with have a different lived experiences.
      3. Hire a gender diverse workforce: having people with lived experience to hand keeps keeps the thinking on track
      4. Support interest groups for gender equity: Crossland says she is keen to work with other queer people in the transport sector.

Crossland says, “I’m sick of reading statistics about gender and cycling uptake which only measure women cyclists. I’m sick of attending webinars about gender diversity in transport which reduce trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming people to a single line at the beginning of the webinar when they mention “other identities”.

The title of the article is, “Gender diversity”​ shouldn’t be code for “women”.  ​

Everyone who thinks they belong to the “us” (not left out ) group has a responsibility to understand they have privilege and do something with it.

The Teenvogue.com website has some simple tips on How to use gender neutral words.