school, books, experiences: in my own words (more or less).

Location: Oshawa, Ontario, Canada

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Eliminating Gender-specific Language

Lately, I find myself struggling in composing sentences that are generic-male (or female) free. For example, the sentence "A blogger should be conscientious of the language he uses" is loaded with a male pronoun ("he"), which could mislead a reader into thinking that by bloggers I mean men (quite obviously there are female bloggers too).

Here are some useful tips that I've summarized from a larger article prepared by Jennifer Jorden-Henley of the Online Writing Lab at RSCC:

  • The subjects can be made plural: "A doctor must use his own judgment in prescribing medication" becomes "Doctors must use their own judgment...."
  • Use words such as "one," "someone," "anyone," "the one." For example: "He who loses the battle sometimes wins the war," becomes "One who loses the battle sometimes wins the war."
  • Eliminate the pronoun: "When he arrives at the scene, the officer should assess the scope of the emergency" can be changed to "Upon arriving at the scene, the officer...."
  • Recasting the sentence in second person is another solution. "Man never understands his strengths until he has been tested" can be changed to "You never understand your strengths until you have been tested."


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