• Do not use ‘man’ as the neutral term

    The term man is sometimes used to describe the experience of all human beings. However this practice ignores the experience of women as equal members of the human race and contributes to their omission from public life. It can have a real impact on their lives, for example if the word ’man’ is used throughout a job advert a woman may be less likely to apply.

  • Avoid using stereotypical images

    We communicate ideas about the world not only through language, but also through the images we choose to use. A piece of communication is gender-discriminatory if the people within the images are only depicted in stereotypical ways (i.e. female home makers, male builders). Make sure that that the images you use in your communication material do not reinforce gender stereotypes by including a wide mix of people in different environments.

  • Using different adjectives for women and men

    Sometimes in English different adjectives are used to describe the same feature in men and women. There are also some words which – despite not having an explicit gender – have strong connotations that are strongly associated with only women or men. This stems from the fact that some character traits, such as being ambitious, are considered by society attractive in men but negative in women.

  • Gendering in-animate objects

    Assigning a gender to an inanimate object by using gendered pronouns to discuss it applies cultural connotations to characteristics. These connotations are related to gender stereotypes and help to perpetuate them. You should use the pronoun it to talk about inanimate objects. Examples Gender-insensitive languageThe ship slipped her moorings.Gender-sensitive languageThe ship slipped its moorings. Gender-insensitive languageDelegates are free to make presentations in their mother tongues and translations will be provided.Gender-sensitive languageDelegates are free to make presentations in their native languages and translations will be provided.

  • Avoid gendered stereotypes as descriptive terms

    Avoid using words which imply a gender connotation to describe an aspect of a person or object. It is especially important to avoid doing this where the gendered term is used as an insult. These expressions normally paint the feminine as the negative. Describing something as feminine is used as an insult, often to mean weak or ineffective. Using language in this way is sexist.

  • Avoid irrelevant information about gender

    When you are speaking or writing about occupations, do not provide irrelevant information about people’s gender. Doing this supports the stereotype that the ‘normal’ version of this profession is gendered. For example, saying 'female lawyer' implies that lawyers are normally male. For this reason terms such as female professor or male nurse should not be used. Instead you should simply use the occupation title with no gender description.

  • Avoid gendered pronouns (he or she) when the person’s gender is unknown

    When using a gendered pronoun (e.g. he or she), the speaker is assuming the gender of the person they are talking about. Often people use gendered pronouns even when they do not know the gender of the person they are talking about or when talking about a group of people that could be of either gender. This practice perpetuates gender stereotyping by repeating commonly held expectations about the gender of people in certain roles.

  • Subordination and trivialisation - How language can reinforce the subjugation of women

    Subordination and trivialisation are ways of using language that reinforce men’s traditional dominance over women or belittle or insult women. ​Trivialisation is any language which makes something seem unimportant and it is closely related to subordination. Often things related to women are trivialised through language that makes something sound ‘small’ or ‘cute’. This may appear benign, but can have the effect of reinforcing women’s subordinate place in society.

  • Invisibility and omission - How language can leave women out of the conversation

    The following sections address invisibility and omission of women in communication and propose ways to actively acknowledge and promote their visibility and inclusion: Do not use 'man' as the neutral term Do not use 'he' to refer to unknown people Do not use gender-biased nouns to refer to groups of people Take care with 'false generics' Greetings and other forms of inclusive communication

  • Stereotypes

    Stereotypes are generalised images about people within a society. A gender stereotype is a preconceived idea where women and men are assigned characteristics and roles determined and limited by their gender. Stereotypes about gender often take one of two forms. One assumes all members of a category (such as a profession) share a gender, for example the assumption that all company directors are men and all secretaries are women.

  • Pronouns

    Gender Subject Object Posessive Possessive Reflexive Female She Her Her Hers Herself Male He Him His His Himself Neutral Ze Hir Hir Hirs Hirself To ensure you avoid gendered pronouns, please take a look at the following exemplary sentence and proposed alternatives. Gendered pronouns Solution Alternatives When every participant contributes his own ideas, the discussion will be a success. Use his or her When every participant contributes her or his own ideas, the discussion will be a success.