I was asked by the then Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People to bring together a working group to look at the way data on sex and gender is collected and published, and put together guidance for public bodies.
This was announced at the same time as the Cabinet Secretary updated Scottish Parliament on plans to reform the Gender Recognition Act 2004 in Scotland. While the two are not directly related, some groups had, in response to the proposals to reform gender recognition, raised concerns about the collection and use of data by sex and gender.
The scope of this work is about data collected and used by Scottish public bodies – for operational, statistical and research purposes. It is separate from Scotland's Census 2022.
The book "Invisible Women" by Caroline Criado Perez, and work by a number of organisations, has also drawn attention to the frequency with which data is neither collected, aggregated or used in a way that takes account of the differences including biological and physical differences – between men and women, and their impact in areas such as transport, health and access to services.
I have brought together a group of experts in collecting and presenting data from across the UK. I have listened to the varied views and drawn my own conclusions from these. An important part of this work was making sure that the guidance is informed by evidence from a wide range of individuals and organisations with views based on a lived experience of these issues. To do this, I met a number of external stakeholders to listen to their views, as well as holding public engagement events to give everyone with an interest the opportunity to have their views heard. Finally, a public consultation was held on a draft version of this guidance.
I gathered together these insights and considered them when putting together this guidance.
Given the importance of this topic, it was important for me to carry out this work in a transparent way, so that people can see how it has been put together. To this end, I have been posting regular blog updates on my Statistics blog, as well as publishing all minutes from the working group meetings on the Scottish Government website.
My role as Chief Statistician brings with it responsibility for the coordination and implementation of professional statistical standards that help maintain trustworthiness in the use of data, its quality, and delivering improved outcomes for people in Scotland. In putting together this guidance I have, therefore, rooted the work in a set of widely accepted statistical principles. Whilst the concepts behind definitions are important, so too is having data that is high quality, and can be used to drive changes and improvements that will save time, money and lives – for the benefit of everyone.
Roger Halliday, Chief Statistician