In academic writing, it is important to avoid using gender-specific language or sexist language. Language should be as inclusive as possible and the writer should not make any assumptions about traits or professions belonging to one gender or the other.
There are several strategies that might help student-writers avoid gender bias and become gender-inclusive:
- Replace nouns with gendered suffixes such as man, chairman, freshman, policeman, mailman with gender-neutral nouns such as person, chairperson or chair, first-year student, police officer, mail carrier, g.,
RIGHT: The university has organised a welcoming party for first-year students.
WRONG: The university has organised a welcoming part for freshmen.
- Use both a masculine and a feminine pronoun, e.g., his or her, or his/her, e.g.,
RIGHT: Each student should save his or her questions until the end of the lecture.
WRONG: Each student should save his questions until the end of the lecture.
- Make the noun plural so that the plural pronoun is used in the sentence, e.g.,
RIGHT: All people who like animals have their favourites.
WRONG: Every person who likes animals has his favourite.
For more information on gendered language, please refer to the following sources:
- http://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/gender-inclusive-language/ (The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
- https://wmich.edu/writing/genderbias (Writing Style Guide: Western Michigan University)
- https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/608/05/ (Purdue Online Writing Lab OWL)