10 ways to avoid gender bias in writing
The last thing a communicator wants to do is offend a reader or customer. Here are some tips to appease both the guys and gals in your audience.
How do you write around the outmoded usage of the pronoun he or him when a male is not necessarily the subject of the reference? Here are ten strategies—none ideal in every circumstance—for achieving gender neutrality.
1. Use he or she
Before: “Ask the student whether he is prepared to give a presentation.”
After: “Ask the student whether he or she is prepared to give a presentation.”
This solution is stiffly formal and is awkward in repetition; use sparingly. Using he/she, s/he, or any such alternative (or an invented neutral pronoun like ze) is not advised.
2. Alternate between he and she
Before: “Ask the student whether he is prepared to give a presentation. If he is ready, tell him that he may begin when he is ready.”
After: “Ask the student whether he is prepared to give a presentation. If she is ready, tell her that she may begin when she is ready.”
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