I was happy to see the issue of storing gender addressed by this Educause article, Male, Female, Nonbinary: The Ethical Responsibility of the IT Community

One of the reasons I started Codepaw and sought out clients like my current was my frustration with IT departments and software developers not taking responsibility for the ethical and social impact of their work.

The issue of gender information in particular came up for us recently. The project I work on now provides alternative forms of books to help people with reading-related disabilities, like blindness or dyslexia. We had a request from a partner to add gender to the description of narrators for recordings of books read aloud. My first question was, why? How is this relevant to the quality of the book? As it turns out, gender has been used historically to get a general idea of the pitch of the voice reading the book. Some people lose hearing in certain hearing range, and might be able to hear a book read in a higher pitch better than in a lower pitch. So for now, we are including the gender information.

I am hoping that someday we can incorporate a filter that samples the pitch from the audio file and shows that information instead of narrator gender. As those of you interested in security already know, the most foolproof way to protect personally identifying information is not to collect or store it. So using pitch instead of gender would allow us to dump that data, as well as giving the end user of the recording a more accurate description of the pitch. But, like most nonprofits, my client needs to provide justification to get funding for everything it does, so this won't happen immediately. I know this is an issue for for-profit work as well, since doing the right thing doesn't always translate into profits. In spite of that, I hope that you, as a developer or member of the IT community, will keep looking for opportunities to do the right thing and advocating for them.

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