🤔 Did you know? International Women’s Day was first observed in 1911. At the time, more than a million women and men attended rallies and marches. They campaigned for key women’s rights including the right to work, vote, receive training and to hold office.
👉 Fun fact: The official color for International Women’s Day is purple! A color that’s associated with gender equality and justice in some parts of the world.
Language has a big impact on our social fabric.
Dr. Allyson Jule, author of Speaking Up, Understanding Language and Gender, explains that language doesn’t just reflect society’s attitudes towards gender. It also constructs society’s attitudes too.
🗣️ The problem is that the language we use is often rooted in what Jule calls the “historical patriarchal hierarchy“.
That’s why we have words like actor and actress. That’s why words like “businessman” and “chairman” are more commonly used.
But these terms often promote a male perspective. And words that treat men as the norm exclude women.
A solution? Gender-inclusive language. Language that focuses on gender-neutral terms.
1️. Use symmetrical language
If you refer to men as men, always refer to women as women (not ladies or females). If you refer to men by titles, such as Dr, follow the same rule for women.
2️. Avoid generic use of gender-specific language
Do you need to use words like ‘man-made’ or ‘mankind’? Instead, use inclusive terms like ‘artificial’ or ‘humankind’.
Do you need to use words like ‘his’ or ‘he’? If you’re not referring to a specific person use gender-neutral terms like ‘their’ or ‘them’.
3️. Use gender-neutral job titles
When you can, use gender-neutral job titles. For example, ‘spokesperson’ instead of ‘spokesman’, or ‘chair’ rather than ‘chairman’.
⚠️ Some job titles are still hotly debated. For example actor/actress, waiter/waitress, and terms like midwife that lack a widely accepted alternative. What do you think? If in doubt, ask for a person’s preference.
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