FEATURE26 October 2018

A question of identity

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For younger generations in particular, gender is increasingly seen as a spectrum rather than a binary choice. What does this mean for those trying to understand people’s behaviour? By Jane Bainbridge.


One of the first selections made by respondents in any form of market research is a gender one. Tick the box – male or female. But where only a matter of years ago these were the sole options given – and expected – today this is too restrictive. 

For gender – the way an individual identifies, rather than their biological sex – is no longer seen as a binary state, but more of a spectrum. 

The changing nature of gender identity rides on the wave of widespread shifts in society’s attitude to all areas of sex and gender and a generally more progressive and inclusive outlook. 

Harshadha Balasubramanian, cultural anthropologist at marketing strategists Kingfisher Consultancy, says: “The social and cultural norms that have upheld the female and male binary state have started to crumble. The real tipping point would arguably be movements like feminism, which asked people to take identities more seriously ...