For the last century, and long before it, scholars, scientists, doctors and parenting experts have debated between focusing on gender differences, between the notion that boys were being “left behind” and that girls were, and between a belief in fixed and blurry gender identities.
Consumer culture has been credited or accused with allowing youth to explore gender or proscribing narrow definitions of it. While some industries cater to boy and girl differences (think the toy manufacturing and toy retail industries), others have sought common ground between the sexes (think media entities like Nick and Disney). And the culture that youth consume has embodied a scope large enough to hold gender benders and gender stereotypes alike.
But regardless of our theories on gender that aim to describe what it is and what it ought (or ought not) to be, youth experience gender in a way that’s all their own.
In YouthBeat’s next round of qualitative research, conducted among a virtual panel of 18 families across the country, we hope to uncover what gender means on boys’ and girls’ own their terms. How do ideas around gender being a spectrum versus a binary translate into the lives of real youth? What role does gender identity play in their emerging understanding of their overall identity? And what role does gender play (or not play) in the choices that they make as consumers of products, services and media?
To do this, we need your help. What questions about gender keep you up at night? What hypotheses do you have about this generation and their relationship to gender? How does your brand negotiate gender and what challenges have you faced?