A growing redefinition of traditional gender roles lead some to reject the notion of gender completely, while others take steps to mask gender from products, services, and experiences.
Four years ago Facebook changed their "Gender" dropdown to allow for more than 50 options. After a few short months, they expanded the list to 71 options. Less than a year after the original announcement, they added an empty fill-in-the-blank option to allow anyone to write anything.
If you are looking for a sign of how our impressions of gender are in flux, this is the perfect analogy. We now live in a world where anyone can literally write anything to describe their gender - a situation some experts are describing as gender infinity.
In our research, we call this trend 'Ungendered' - and it is causing people and organizations alike to move away from using gender as a basis for communications, product design or conversation. Instead, we are seeing a shift toward a safer, more inclusive and gender-free way of thinking which is affecting everything from entertainment and products to recruiting and working.
For many years, gender was the ultimate binary choice with a few exceptions. It was a statement to be made about yourself and a fundamental element of your identity, no matter how you chose to describe it. Today, gender is a question to be explored.
The tempting thing to dismiss this trend as only important for those who work with youth or happen to be young right now. This trend is not just about understanding youth.
Instead, ungendered matters because it challenges us to rethink long-held assumptions and see the world with empathy and understanding. In addition, it will increasingly cause companies to re-evaluate how they talk to consumers, design products and even what aisle of the store they are sold in. As this understanding becomes stronger, we will stop seeing needlessly gendered items and stereotypical messaging. Instead, people will be treated as people and the upside for business is the more products may find new audiences that were previously hard to spot in a more gendered world.