Breaking the Gender Bias
Well, we all know that "women's day is every day". Even further, people, humanity, should celebrate their existence, achievements, on a daily basis. It is an effective motivator to add more happiness, prosperity and abundance to our lives.
However, to have a specific day dedicated to it, is a good reminder. And, if you have fallen back into the bad habit of not praising yourself for your achievements, it is an opportunity to get back on track. 💯
I found out that the motto for Women's Day this year is #breakthebias.
It is a good reminder to all of us, women, men, everyone, on the importance of being less judgemental, and using more inclusive communication when expressing ourselves. Also, be more open to different views and opportunities.
👎🏽 How many times we catch ourselves having biases towards our own female kind?
Shame on us! 👎🏽 We need to be more attentive, and avoid such behaviour.
Self-awareness, self-vigilance, and self-correction are key to #breakthebias.
As you know, I mostly communicate directly to women, not to men, in my professional environment, however, when communicating to the general public I'm aware that I should try to include every gender in the conversation.
We both know how communication plays an important role in the quality of the relationship we build around us. Therefore, I asked myself, "how can we prevent bias in our judgement, but also, avoid a gender-biased language in our communication?"
First, let me explain what a Gender-biased language is. "Gender-biased language either implicitly or explicitly favours one gender over another and is a form of gender-discriminatory language. Example of gender-biased language: “Every day, each citizen must ask himself how he can fulfil his civic duties”. (wikipedia)
Here is what I found:
✅ USE GENDER-NEUTRAL TERMS WHENEVER POSSIBLE.
Use: people, humanity
Use: work force, employees
Use: to staff, to run, to operate
Not: to man
Use: caring, nurturing
Use: police officer, public safety officer
Use: postal carrier, postal worker
Not: chairman, chairwoman*
*Use chairman, chairwoman or chairperson only if that is the person's official job title and always if it is the person's official job title. The heads of departments at WMU are officially appointed by the Board of Trustees with the title "chair."
✅ WHEN POSSIBLE, WRITE IN THE PLURAL.
Instead of: Each student must meet with his professor.
Write: All students must meet with their professors.
Never write: Each student must meet with their professor.
Instead of: Each alumnus was invited.
Write: All alumni were invited.
Never write: Each alumni was invited.
✅ WRITE IN THE SECOND PERSON.
In most writing, it is acceptable and preferable to address readers in the second person. This creates writing that is less legalistic and which helps avoid gender-specific pronouns.
Instead of: The applicant should submit his resume by Nov. 1.
Write: Submit your resume by Nov. 1.
Never write: The applicant should submit your resume by Nov. 1.
✅ ELIMINATE THE THIRD-PERSON SINGULAR POSSESSIVE.
Instead of: Each child scribbled on his pad of paper.
Write: Each child scribbled on a pad of paper.
✅ CHOOSE WORDS THAT APPLY EQUALLY TO MEN AND WOMEN.
It is a reality of the English language that many words which may apply to men can equally apply to men and women. Only a woman can be an actress. Both women and men can be actors. The first definition of an actor is, “one who acts.” It is not gender specific.
Instead of: Student actors and actresses will perform "Othello."
Write: Student actors will perform "Othello."
Instead of: She is one of today's top comediennes.
Write: She is one of today's top comedians.
✅ AVOID WRITING THAT IS AWKWARD FOR THE SAKE OF GENDER EQUITY
Your goal is to avoid gender bias in your writing. In most cases, however, it is not the goal of your message to advance the cause of gender equity. Avoid writing that is legalistic or that makes gender or gender equity an unintended issue.
Avoid slash constructions.
Instead of: Each student can choose his/her major.
Write: Each student can choose his or her major.
Still better: All students can choose their majors.
Instead of: Each alumnus/alumna gets a vote.
Write: Each alumnus or alumna gets a vote.
Never write: Each alumnus/na gets a vote.
Source: Western Michigan University
On that note, let's put into practice breaking the gender bias in our communication. As words carry emotions with them, I'm positive that using a more neutral language when addressing the general public will build a more inclusive language, which will engage a wider audience while representing our worldwide diversity.
Wishing you a Happy Women's Day, every day! 🌹