Gender versus Sex

One of the principles of good design for UI is “Don’t Make Me Think” as popularized by the book by Steve Krug of the same title. Filling out this form, I really stopped to think for a moment.

Gender = Woman... but did you need to make me stop and think?

The form asks for your gender. Typically when I hit the sex field in a form, I strike the “f” key on my keyboard for "female". That’s what I did, without thinking, on this form just to realize that there was something a little different.

Now, asking for one’s "gender" is technically correct for a clothing site (this is, as gender refers to the socially constructed roles of men and women. Gender roles are parts that we play in our daily lives. And much as Shakespearian plays of the past often casted males in a woman’s (gender) role, we today have males who identify and play the gender role of a woman.

But is this important for the form? Do they use this data? And if I were transgendered, would I answer the same if I were asked for my "sex"?.

They made me stop to think… But was it worth it?


One thought on “Gender versus Sex

  1. It’s a situation where using the correct gender terms seems perfectly reasonable for the form, but using unconventional values is better handled with visible radio buttons so people see up front what’s going on, and as you say, don’t have to think.

    It’s arguable that for a lot of choices on the web, visible choices through radios would be better than select boxes anyway, they just look a little less slick.

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