Inclusive langage, 4 issues

1. Avoid using the masculine as generic with he

 Prefer To
Students need to consult their notes before the lecture. A student needs to consult his notes before the lecture.

Directly address readers or listeners

 Prefer To

If you want to enroll, click here.

If you are a student and want to enrol, click here.

If a student wants to enrol, he needs to click here.

Remove the pronoun

Prefer To
Each student chooses the modules to follow. Each student chooses the modules he wants to follow.

Use pair forms to refer to both genders, or the singular they

 Prefer To

When a researcher decides to send a manuscript, she or he has to carefully check for spelling mistakes. 

When a researcher decides to send a manuscript, they have to carefully check for spelling mistakes.

When a researcher decides to send a manuscript, he has to carefully check for spelling mistakes. 


Reformulate to avoid using gendered pronouns (often using the passive form)

Prefer To
The professor who gets published frequently will have a better chance when faculty tenure is granted. The professor who gets published frequently will have a better chance when he goes before the tenure board. 

Following the same rationale as for the pronoun he, man or men should never be used as generics. Typically, man should be replaced by terms such as person, people, individual, human, or human being. Note that some research seems to indicate the term human activates similar representations to man (and different ones to woman), and therefore should be used with parsimony.

2. Mention women first in the word order

As such, in androcentric cultures, men are commonly and predominantly mentioned first[1] in pairs (e.g., men and women, husband and wife), giving them a more central position. given the extremely high propensity to mention men first, we suggest that – for the time being – women be mentioned first. Of course, this is only to be applied in cases where it is impossible to remove explicit mention of gender – which, as suggested earlier, should always be aimed for.

[1] Except for “ladies and gentlemen”. See [8] for a discussion on this special case.

3. Addressing persons without gendered terms

 Prefer  To
Dear Anne Mueller Dear Ms Mueller

In these cases, of course, one could argue that the first name is gendered, and one could find other ways to address this person, when applicable (e.g., Dear Dr Mueller). If you need, or want, to avoid first names, and no non-gendered alternatives are possible, Ms should be used for women, and Mr for men. Options specifying marital status (Miss or Mrs) should be avoided.

When addressing unknown persons, prefer formulations such as Dear Colleague, Dear Professor, Dear Editor, etc. In line with the first issue presented in this guide, please avoid all uses of the term man as a generic. So, for example, a chairman becomes a chairperson.

Similarly, avoid all explicit mention of gender when using role nouns, such as male nurse, female athlete or housewife.

4. Never assume a specific gender to be associated with different roles or occupations

 Prefer To
Professors and their partners were invited. Professors and their wives were invited.
Parents can benefit from the university’s childcare service. Mothers can benefit from the university’s childcare service.

Gender stereotypes can broadly be defined as generalized beliefs and expectations about social roles or occupations that are considered appropriate based on individuals’ socially identified sex. Although these stereotypes may at times be rather difficult to combat, language – and language use – can be a powerful source to do so. Therefore, we would advise an overarching principle associated with stereotyping.

Additional guides available on-line

Guidelines for Non-Sexist Use of Language from the American Philosophical Association -

General Principles for Reducing Bias from the American Psychology Association -