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The entity attributes in RDA are not just just recorded when needed to
break conflicts. They are also intended to aid identification--to answer
the question, "I wonder if this John Smith is the one I'm looking for?" RDA
sees assisting the user with identifying persons, families, and corporate
bodies as part of its mission.  We don't establish names just for the name
anymore--we want the authority description to include enough
characteristics to make the entity recognizable.

Gender is one of the characteristics which make a person recognizable.
There are many names in our catalog which to me convey no sense of gender.
Having that indicated on an authority record as one of a variety of
attributes could be an aid to me in determining that I've found the person
I'm looking for.

I'm also certain that there are researchers who will be glad to make use of
the kinds of categorical retrieval for persons which the new RDA attributes
will make possible.  Just now I did searches of authorities in OCLC
specifying "rda" as the Descriptive convention, "college teachers" as the
first Entity attribute, and "male" or "female" as the second Entity
attribute.   The numbers: Male college teachers, 27,110; female college
teachers, 11,392.  In other contexts, we could readily see the importance
of this kind of data--as evidence of gender disparity, say, in the faculty
of an academic department.  Should the acknowledged delicacy of an in depth
discussion of personal gender identity with an individual be an obstacle to
recording this kind of data in all cases?  I'd argue that for individuals
being able to assert gender through culturally encoded names and styles of
presentation is a way of associating themselves with a social group.  Being
part of a social group is desirable for lots of reasons. Arguably, even for
the exceptional cases much discussed in this conversation, taking of a
different name and style of presentation is as much about claiming group
membership as it is about revealing self.  Are we really doing anyone a
favor by refusing to recognize such claims?

It's been argued that recording a person's gender is 1) an invasion of
privacy and 2) an act of stereotyping and 3) a reinforcement of narrow and
limiting social constructs.

1) I'd agree that discovering gender is no justification for invading
privacy; but recording gender based on published self presentation is not
an invasion of privacy.

2) Stereotyping is bad because it seeks to infer a whole set of
characteristics for a person on the basis of one categorization.  The new,
more richly descriptive approach to authorities should work against this
tendency.  We record a range of attributes for the person on the basis of a
evidence for each one. We don't say, "372 Medicine, 375 female; must be 374
Nurses".  That would be stereotyping.  On the other hand, if our evidence
also reports that the person works as a nurse and we record that fact in
374, we are not stereotyping.

3) The challenge of changing narrow social constructs, making them more
flexible and reflective of the variety which they contain, is arguably
better accomplished not be rejecting a construct like male/female, but by
gathering and presenting evidence of how varied the members of such
categories are.  In collective terms, that is the sort of project that RDA
authorities can contribute to--demonstrating that each of these gender
terms can correlate with many different fields of study or occupations.  In
the aggregate and over time, the effect of recording all these personal
attributes will be to erode the monolithic notions of gender and make
gender difference less powerful as tools of stereotyping and discrimination.

I'm open to proposals that for some people, the gender terms used and the
ways of applying them need to be improved in RDA.  But to use that issue to
argue against the value and utility of recording gender in all cases is the
result of seriously flawed analysis.

Stephen



On Wed, Jun 10, 2015 at 10:53 AM, Young,Naomi Kietzke <[log in to unmask]>
wrote:

>  Pete,
>
>
>
> But it’s only necessary if there is another “Dame Edna” who is MALE
> already IN the AF.
>
>
>
> You keep begging the question; trying to make coding gender more “handy,”
> when what Kevin (and Shana, and others) are saying is that we should not
> code gender at all unless it breaks a conflict or is necessary because of
> the language (as with Chinese).
>
>
>
> Naomi
>
> Breaking her promise to herself to let this lie
>
>
>
> *From:* Program for Cooperative Cataloging [mailto:
> [log in to unmask]] *On Behalf Of *Wilson, Pete
> *Sent:* Tuesday, June 09, 2015 6:50 PM
>
> *To:* [log in to unmask]
> *Subject:* Re: [PCCLIST] More Caitlyn Jenner and 375s
>
>
>
> No, no.  What I was saying would “come in handy” was the UNDERSTANDING or
> definition of the 375 as being used for “perceived sex,” not a guess at the
> person’s “real” sex or gender.  That makes a decision of how to code a 375
> for Dame Edna pretty obvious, I think.  Thus, the definition is handy.
>
>
>
> Pete
>
>
>
> *From:* Program for Cooperative Cataloging [
> mailto:[log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]>] *On Behalf Of
> *Kevin M Randall
> *Sent:* Tuesday, June 09, 2015 5:03 PM
> *To:* [log in to unmask]
> *Subject:* Re: [PCCLIST] More Caitlyn Jenner and 375s
>
>
>
> So you mean using the field will come in handy for determining whether the
> use of the field is correct?  Sounds sort of circular to me.
>
>
>
> Kevin
>
>
>
> *From:* Program for Cooperative Cataloging [
> mailto:[log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]>] *On Behalf Of
> *Wilson, Pete
> *Sent:* Tuesday, June 09, 2015 4:46 PM
> *To:* [log in to unmask]
> *Subject:* Re: [PCCLIST] More Caitlyn Jenner and 375s
>
>
>
> For making clearer that the 375 should be “female” rather than “male,” no
> matter what sex/gender Barry Humphries may consider himself to have.
>
>
>
> Pete
>
>
>
> *From:* Program for Cooperative Cataloging [
> mailto:[log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]>] *On Behalf Of
> *Kevin M Randall
> *Sent:* Tuesday, June 09, 2015 4:41 PM
> *To:* [log in to unmask]
> *Subject:* Re: [PCCLIST] More Caitlyn Jenner and 375s
>
>
>
> "Handy" for what purpose?  I'm totally lost here.
>
>
>
> Kevin
>
>
>
> *From:* Program for Cooperative Cataloging [
> mailto:[log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]>] *On Behalf Of
> *Wilson, Pete
> *Sent:* Tuesday, June 09, 2015 4:02 PM
> *To:* [log in to unmask]
> *Subject:* Re: [PCCLIST] More Caitlyn Jenner and 375s
>
>
>
> Ted,
>
>
>
> Actually I forgot that we don’t actually have an authority record for Dame
> Edna.  I don’t care whether we do or not, really.  But if we decide she
> merits an authority of her own for having been the ostensible author of
> books, the “perceived gender” concept might come in handy.
>
>
>
> Pete
>



-- 
Stephen Hearn, Metadata Strategist
Data Management & Access, University Libraries
University of Minnesota
160 Wilson Library
309 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
Ph: 612-625-2328
Fx: 612-625-3428
ORCID:  0000-0002-3590-1242