What to label my variables?

Hi, I have coded my gender variable as male=1 and female=1 should this be a string or numeric variable? I am also asking about my likert data, I have 17 variables that were answered using a likert scale. I have coded the data so that strongly disagree=1, disagree=2, neither agree nor disagree=3, agree=4 and strongly agree=5. Should I change these to numeric?

When I try to change any of these variables to numeric from string a window in SPSS pops up saying some value labels or missing value specifications will be discarded for gender. This happens to all the 17 likert scale variables too. How do I get around this or should I just click ok?