Skip to main content

Disaggregate: Gender


Self-identified gender

Why it matters

Gender disparities are evident in many E-W outcomes, both overall and within groups, such as groups broken out by race and ethnicity. Women now graduate from high school, enroll in college, and complete college (across all degree types) at higher rates than men. However, pay inequities that disadvantage women persist in the workforce, with women earning approximately 82 cents for every dollar earned by men. Although wage data disaggregated by nonbinary status is not currently widely available, research by the Human Rights Campaign suggests that workers identifying as nonbinary earn approximately 70 cents for every dollar compared to the “typical” worker (based on median weekly earnings of all full-time workers reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics). Disaggregation by gender is required in grades K–12 under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) also collects and reports postsecondary enrollment and completion data by gender.

What to know about measurement

We encourage E-W systems to systematically collect and report gender, and include a nonbinary option. Currently, most E-W data systems collect and report information only on male and female gender. For example, IPEDS allows reporting only for these two categories, and “it is up to the institution to decide how best to handle reporting individuals whose gender does not align with the ‘Men’ and ‘Women’ categories.” Similarly, the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) offers only these two options in its reporting guidance. Further, it does not require institutions to report students’ gender, and only 64 percent of 2020–2021 enrollment records reported to the NSC included this information. For students whose gender is not reported, the NSC imputes whether they are male or female based on the probability of their first name being associated with either of these two genders. According to the Williams Institute, a leading lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) research center based at the UCLA School of Law, an estimated 1.2 million adults in the United States identify as nonbinary. Some public data systems are already moving to include a nonbinary option, including the planned 2022 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) by the U.S. Department of Education.

Currently, there are various ways in which transgender status might be captured in data collection. Transgender could be included as a gender option: for example, the Williams Institute recommends offering seven options for self-reporting gender: (1) male, (2) female, (3) transgender male, (4) transgender female, (5) gender nonconforming, (6) nonbinary, (7) other gender identity. Alternatively, systems could ask a separate question about LGBT status that allows disaggregation by transgender status, as described below under “LGBT status.” We encourage E-W systems to align on how they collect gender data to inform policy and practice that supports equity for individuals of all gender identities.

Source frameworks

This disaggregate appeared in 13 source frameworks reviewed for this report, including the Postsecondary Value Commission (PVC) Equitable Value framework, the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) Postsecondary Metrics framework, and the Urban Institute’s Boosting Upward Mobility framework.


The framework's recommendations are based on syntheses of existing research. Please see the framework report for a list of works cited.

This website was funded in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.