Working Group on Sex and Gender in Data – March update

March 10, 2020 by No Comments | Category Working Group

  By Roger Halliday, Chief Statistician

You will know that I was asked by the Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People to put together guidance to support public bodies collect and present data on sex and gender. I have brought together experts in collecting and presenting data from across the UK. We met for the fifth time last week, and I wanted to give an update on this work.

Over the last month we have run two public events to hear from people about this issue, in particular examples where data on sex, on gender, and on the trans population is specifically needed or would be helpful. We talked about where people have seen this data collection done well or not so well. We also discussed the issues that someone collecting data about sex and gender needs to consider in practice.

Thank you to the 40 or so people who were able to attend: it was good to get a real mix of academics, members of the public, and representatives from public sector organisations. I got lots of important information. If I had to pick out some consistent themes across the events it would be…
• It is important for public bodies to be clear about the purpose of collecting the data and how it will be used;
• The need for clear definitions, simple language, and standardised questions;
• Collecting disaggregated data in order to highlight if there are inequalities between men and women generally which need to be tackled;
• That there are circumstances where information on sex, gender, and the trans population is needed by different public sector bodies;
• In seeking this information, it is important to ask this in ways that are respectful, where people are adequately trained in how to ask questions sensitively. This helps respondents answer the questions and avoid situations where organisations are concerned about collecting the data and therefore avoid doing so.
• Key is maximising the utility of the data whilst providing assurances around confidentiality and privacy

I have been reflecting on what I heard not just from the public events and the working group, but also from relevant organisations I’ve met and who have kindly shared views and evidence. I’m currently putting the final touches to a first draft of the guidance for public bodies. I’m expecting to seek feedback on this from those who have already shown an interest in this work.

My intention remains to provide advice to Ministers in the late Spring.

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