May 14, 2023

Gender-Inclusive Data Collection in the City of Boston: A Digital Service Network Spotlight

Mayor Michelle Wu has a vision to create a “Boston for everyone.” Part of the work to make this vision a reality includes changing how the City asks residents about gender with an eye toward greater inclusion. “Right now, we ask residents about gender identity to deliver key services,” the announcement for the work states. “But when we ask, we often aren’t using language that represents all gender identities and may not even need gender identity to deliver some of these services. We want to understand how to ask about gender identity in an accessible, affirming, and safe way.”

This effort stems from an ordinance Mayor Wu helped pass as a city councilmember in 2020, which stipulates that the City must ensure all forms — existing and future — include a third, non-binary gender identification option, to be marked as “X.” The implementation of the ordinance thus far has embraced its original spirit of inclusivity, while promoting changes to gender-based data collection practices that are human-centered and resident-driven.  

To learn more, the Beeck Center’s Digital Service Network (DSN) spoke with Chief Digital Officer (CDO) Julia Gutiérrez of the Digital Services (DS) Team in the Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) and Chief Mariangely Solís Cervera of Boston’s Equity and Inclusion Cabinet. 

Associated Projects

Contributing Authors

Louisa Sholar

Student Analyst

Colleen Pulawski

Colleen Pulawski

Project Researcher, Digital Service Network