Why the World is Giving Up on Genders - OZY | A Modern Media Company


Gender is becoming more of a nonissue.

By Lisa Rabasca Roepe

It’s been more than 30 years since Prince first sang, “I’m not a woman / I’m not a man / I am something that you’ll never understand.” Today, teens increasingly view gender on a spectrum and don’t see themselves or their peers as absolutely male or female

There are other signs that gender is not absolute. This year, Target became the first mainstream retailer to offer gender-neutral clothing for children, and in October, California became the third jurisdiction to offer a third gender option — nonbinary — on its driver’s licenses. New York is looking at creating a similar option. According to a consumer report by Havas, a global advertising and public relations company:

52 percent of women and 44 percent of men believe that gender is fluid.

“Data shows that gender is on its way to becoming much more of a nonissue, just another human variable such as height, hair color and shoe size,” says Laura Maness, CEO of Havas New York. “This is not to say we foresee a time when gender will be entirely ignored; simply that it will be increasingly less of a focus and factor in decision-making.” 

This wouldn’t be first time Havas served as a cultural bellwether on gender. In 2003, the company (then known as Euro RSCG Worldwide) popularized the term “metrosexual.”

Gender equality may be coming to the workplace, but it doesn’t necessarily translate into a nongendered future.

According to Havas’ latest report, “The Future is FeMale,” the idea that men should be macho and women should be girlie is becoming outdated with just 52 percent of suvey respondents believing “a man should be masculine” and only 48 percent believing “a women should be feminine.” In fact, a majority of the 12,000 people (millennials: 4,457; Gen X: 5,464; and baby boomers: 2,246) in 32 countries surveyed see no difference between the genders. 


As consumer attitudes toward gender shift, there are more opportunities for an open dialogue around equality issues at work, Maness says. “The more people perceive qualities to be independent of gender, the less reason there is for gender bias and differentiated norms in any situation or location, including the workplace,” she says.

A recent study by BridgeWorks supports the notion that more gender equality may be coming to the workplace, but it doesn’t necessarily translate into a nongendered future, says Austyn Rask, a research associate. The BridgeWorks study finds that 78 percent of older millennials (born between 1980 and 1987), 86 percent of recessionist millennials (born between 1988 and 1995) and 90 percent of Gen Edgers (born between 1996 and 2010) want to see more female leaders at work

Both studies point to the need for schools and workplaces to take a gender-neutral approach in how they engage with women and men. “There’s no room for or reason to segregate around gender,” Maness says. “Schools and workplaces need to engage, teach and manage women and men based on their individual abilities.”

More key stats from the Havas study 

  • 75 percent of both men and women think neither gender is more valuable to society.
  • 69 percent of men and 71 percent of women think the two genders are equally smart.
  • 61 percent think men and women are equally hardworking.
  • 58 percent of men and 64 percent of women think the two genders make equally good managers.
  • 57 percent think men and women are equally creative and innovative.

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