Non-Binary & the MCET

By Betsy Shaver, VP of Operations

Last week, Business Insider published an article stating “Non-binary gender designations have been slowly making their way to some state IDs – and may be finally coming to airline ticketing. Airlines for America, the trade group that represents major domestic airlines including America, Alaska, United, Southwest, and JetBlue, announced Friday that its members will add an “X” option for non-binary passengers, effective June 1, 2019.” Read the full article here.

It is an important step to recognize non-binary individuals by an industry that makes people feel anxious and stressed even under normal circumstances. At MindCette, we are pleased to see the collective consciousness evolving to understand that non-binary individuals are also worthy of the same level of respect and human dignity that binary folks receive. With that, we would like to address why, at this juncture, we don’t yet offer a non-binary option within the MCET test. We  are working to develop this; but that process will take some time.

The primary reason we did not introduce non-binary as an option into Version 1 of the test comes down to data analytics. We pride ourselves on having the most academically rigorous scoring procedures of any entrepreneurial mindset test on the market. In fact, we are the only company to make the distinction between male and female entrepreneurs – because the body of literature has consistently shown that the two are tangibly different. As a result, the way the questions are weighted and assigned to our 9 dimensions differs between men and women and informs how we compare individuals.

Without much in the way of peer-reviewed literature that explores non-binaries in entrepreneurship, there is no ‘baseline’ or ‘control group’ to use as a starting point. In one of our completed national studies, one person out of 3,661 self-identified as non-binary. Jessica Clarke, a professor of law at Vanderbilt University, asserts in an article in the 2019 Harvard Law Review that “the idea of non-binary gender as an identity itself appears only at the margins of U.S. legal scholarship.” A similar situation exists for non-binary individuals in entrepreneurship.

The dearth of information makes it almost impossible for us to accurately score such individuals. For example, there is abundant literature that shows that female entrepreneurs start their own businesses for different reasons and at different points in their lives from male entrepreneurs. Female entrepreneurs also tend to express traits such as innovation and leadership through different behaviors from their male counterparts.

Without a sufficient understanding of non-binary individuals in entrepreneurship, we do not have a way to discern which questions pertain to a non-binary person. We could try to take only the questions that overlap both genders into account, but the results would neither be compelling nor accurate. Similarly, it is inaccurate to compare a non-binary individual to the combined pools of male and female entrepreneurs. After all, non-binary isn’t a combination of male and female; but rather something completely different.

We would love to gather data from non-binary individuals and entrepreneurs to allow for an additional group or groups to which an individual’s mindset could be compared. To do this, we would need to collect a large enough sample of non-binary individuals (at least 1000 people) to hope to get a meaningful data analysis. Once we had such a core dataset with clear factor loadings, we could accurately compare a non-binary individual’s mindset to the entrepreneurs also in the set. If you are in a position to provide us access to a large enough group of potential respondents, we would love to hear from you.

Lead Developer John Thevos and President Kelly Shaver contributed to this article.

If you have any questions or comments on this article, Betsy Shaver can be reached at betsy@mindcette.com.