Half of Generation Z and Millennials think the gender binary is outdated, eye-opening study reveals

Emma Powys Maurice
·2-min read

Half of Generation Z thinks that traditional gender roles and labels related to the gender binary are outdated, according to a refreshing new study.

As issues of gender equality continue to challenge societal norms and influence public opinion, US-based ad agency Bigeye sought to understand consumers’ perception of gendered products and advertising.

For the 2021 Gender Study the agency polled 2,000 adults from a range of ages, incomes, locations, and gender identities. Questions included the kinds of clothing they wear to their opinion on gender-neutral children’s toys and education.

They found that 50 per cent of Generation Z-ers are pushing back against the gender binary, and that sentiment is even higher among Millennials at 56 percent.

More than half (51 per cent) of all respondents agreed that, in a decade, we will associate gender with stereotypical personality traits, products, and occupations much less than we do today.

“While the majority of Americans are cisgender, a significant percentage of younger generations believe the notion of identity is fluid and decidedly non-traditional,” said Adrian Tennant, VP of Insights at Bigeye and the leader of the research team.

“This study provides a snapshot of the broad, generational spectrum of opinions and beliefs held toward gender identity and expression within the media we consume daily through TV, ads and online platforms.

“While the majority of older generations remain skeptical of advertising’s ability to change perceptions of traditional gender roles, Gen X and younger are leading the charge and challenging brands to portray more diverse audiences and expressions.”

It seems women are more likely to embrace gender-neutrality than men, as nearly three-quarters of cis female parents encourage gender-neutral play for their children (73 percent), a figure significantly higher than cis male parents (59 per cent).

And fifth of female respondents believe that none of the consumer product categories benefit at all from being gendered.

“Toiletries are constantly gendered and it is completely unnecessary. They should be labeled with the qualities of the product and the fragrance, if any. No mention of male or female is needed,” one Gen Y respondent wrote.

In another positive finding, LGBT+ participants were more likely to have faith in the next generation, with 82 per cent of queer millennials and 88 per cent of queer Boomers believing that Gen Z is better educated about non-binary and transgender identities.