Gender-neutral Language

  • Be sensitive to the gender biases built into traditional usage of the English language.   In most cases, these biases are easy to eliminate by rewording the sentence.

  • Do not use a gender-specific pronoun generically. Instead,
    • rewrite the sentence in a plural construction;
    • substitute an all-inclusive phrase such as "his or her," "her or his," "she or he," or "he or she;"
    • substitute an indefinite article for the masculine or feminine pronoun (one's education; your education); or
    • reword the sentence to avoid the use of the masculine or  feminine  pronoun.

Some examples:

Biased: A business student should keep his career goals in mind when writing a degree plan.

Rewritten: Business students should keep their career goals in mind when writing a degree plan.

Biased: A student who believes his knowledge of a subject is equal to that required to complete a particular course might consider a CLEP test.

Rewritten: A student who believes his or her knowledge of a subject is equal to that required to complete a particular course might consider a CLEP test.

Biased: A nursing student has particular admissions requirements she must meet for nursing program admission.

Rewritten: A nursing student must meet particular admission requirements for nursing program admission.

  • Do not use nouns that reflect gender. Instead, use appropriate substitutes. Some examples:

    • businessman-businessperson

    • chairman-chair, chairperson, head, director

    • fireman-firefighter

    • mankind-human beings, humanity, human race, people

    • manpower-personnel, workers, work force

    • policeman-police officer, peace officer

    • spokesman-spokesperson, representative

    • statesman-political leader

  • If specific gender examples are used, alternate male and female examples to provide fair treatment.

Cultural Sensitivity