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“Gender-neutral Language”. By Dennish G. Jerz Presented by Adrienne Lundy. Introduction. Lots of language excludes women and can be considered sexist Quick Fixes Avoiding Stylistic Clunkers and Other Mistakes Special Terms for Women Gender Neutral vs. Non-sexist

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gender neutral language

“Gender-neutral Language”

By Dennish G. Jerz

Presented by Adrienne Lundy

  • Lots of language excludes women and can be considered sexist
  • Quick Fixes
  • Avoiding Stylistic Clunkers and Other Mistakes
  • Special Terms for Women
  • Gender Neutral vs. Non-sexist
  • Links on Gender-Neutral Language
example of avoiding sexist language
Example of Avoiding Sexist Language
  • The phrase “a good policeman knows his duty” excludes women
  • Instead of saying “policeman” you can easily say “police officer”
  • Replacing “his” with “his or her” every time would be very tedious
  • A good solution would be to pluralize
  • So instead of saying “a good police officer knows his or her duty” say “a good police officer knows their duty”
quick fixes
Quick Fixes
  • When you use gender neutral language you want make your message accessible to everyone so that no one feels excluded
  • Gender Specific: Dear Sir, salesman, gunman
  • Gender Neutral: To Whom it May Concern, salesperson, shooter
  • By using saleswoman or businesswoman you may subtly reinforce that it is unusual for women to have these professions
aviod stylistic clunkers
Aviod Stylistic Clunkers
  • Avoid easy edits that introduce stylistic clunkers such as “his/her” and “he/she” because this just gets awkward and repetitive
other mistakes
Other Mistakes
  • Over-correction of Historical phrases
  • Ex. “Every man for himself”
  • Be careful when you alter quotes because you may just sound ignorant to someone who knows the historical context
other mistakes7
Other Mistakes
  • Over-correction of Official Titles
  • Ex. "Ben S. Bernanke, Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System”
  • You can’t just go around and alter people’s official titles because you don’t like it; that would be inaccurate.
  • You can however, speak of them in general terms.
special terms that refer to women
Special Terms that Refer to Women
  • Woman pilot, woman photographer
  • It is not common to say the “man pilot” or “man photographer”, which implies that pilots or photographers are usually male which makes these terms biased.
  • Use the terms pilot and photographer
  • If the gender is important, mention it in a different sentence or throw in a pronoun.
  • In most cases the name gives away the gender of the person.
  • Ex. “If Sally Jones is flying my plane, she's the pilot.”
  • Ex. "The winning photographer, Chris Jones, impressed the judges with her creativity.”
  • Saying the “lady pilot” or “female photographer” would attract to much attention the gender
gender neutral vs non sexist
Gender Neutral vs. Non-sexist
  • The article was titled “Gender Neutral Language” as opposed to “Gender-Fair Language” or “Non-sexist Language” because the author felt these were too emotionally loaded and implies that you are unfair or sexist unless you write in a certain way. (Which for some people is the point.)
links on gender neutral language
Links on Gender Neutral Language
  • What are Editors For?
  • Gender-Free Pronoun FAQ
  • Many terms are gender-specific and exclude women
  • It is very easy to alter your language to make it gender-neutral
  • Just be careful to avoid grammatical and stylistic errors