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Sex bias in language use: "Neutral" pronouns that aren't

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Abstract

Terms such as "his," "he," and "man" refer to males but are also used as putative gender-neutral terms to refer to persons of unspecified sex. It is argued that male terms sometimes fail to be gender-neutral and may therefore be a cause of sex bias as well as a vestige of past inequality. In an experiment with 226 male and 264 female college students on the interpretation of pronouns, male terms such as "his," even in explicitly gender-neutral contexts, caused Ss to think 1st of males significantly more often than did "his or her" appearing in the same place. It is concluded that male terms can fail to be gender-neutral even when it is clear that a person of either sex is referred to, and males may have an advantage in contexts where they are referred to by a putative neutral term. (20 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

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... Janice Moulton, George M. Robinson and Cherin Elias's 1978 study 'Sex Bias in Language Use: "Neutral" Pronouns That Aren't' extended this investigation to the use of pronouns. Participants were asked to create a story on the basis of a given pronoun, and the authors found that 'when the pronoun his was used, 35% of the story characters were female; for their, 46% were female; and for his or her, 56% were female' (Moulton et al. 1978(Moulton et al. , 1034. This indicates that pronouns equally influence interpretation. ...
... Furthermore, the choice of 'he' appears to skew interpretation toward male. Moulton et al. consider this bias to be a form of 'parasitic reference' (Moulton et al. 1978(Moulton et al. , 1035, '[t]o the extent that coming more readily to mind confers an advantage, females are disadvantaged when they are part of a population referred to by a parasitic "neutral" term' (Moulton et al. 1978(Moulton et al. , 1035. This is further supported by Wendy Martyna's 1980 study 'The Psychology of the Generic Masculine', which asked children and young people to complete sentences with a pronoun of their choice. ...
... Furthermore, the choice of 'he' appears to skew interpretation toward male. Moulton et al. consider this bias to be a form of 'parasitic reference' (Moulton et al. 1978(Moulton et al. , 1035, '[t]o the extent that coming more readily to mind confers an advantage, females are disadvantaged when they are part of a population referred to by a parasitic "neutral" term' (Moulton et al. 1978(Moulton et al. , 1035. This is further supported by Wendy Martyna's 1980 study 'The Psychology of the Generic Masculine', which asked children and young people to complete sentences with a pronoun of their choice. ...
Book
Inclusive language remains a hot topic. Despite decades of empirical evidence and revisions of formal language use, many inclusive adaptations of English and German continue to be ignored or contested. But how to convince speakers of the importance of inclusive language? Rewriting Language provides one possible answer: by engaging readers with the issue, literary texts can help to raise awareness and thereby promote wider linguistic change. Christiane Luck analyses five iconic texts from a literary, linguistic and sociological perspective. She shows how Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness and Verena Stefan’s Häutungen highlight the issues inherent in the linguistic status quo; Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time and June Arnold’s The Cook and the Carpenter explore the possibilities and challenges of linguistic neutrality; and Gerd Brantenberg’s Egalias døtre reverses linguistic norms to illustrate the link between language and imagination. A focus group study provides empirical evidence for the effectiveness of the literary approaches and shows how literary texts can sensitise readers to the impact of biased language. Particularly in the context of education, Luck concludes, literary texts can be a valuable tool to promote inclusive language use.
... While generically intended, such words had been found to lead to biases. Generic 'he', which is meant to refer to anyone, leads to people thinking of men more often than women (Moulton et al., 1978). ...
... In many languages, masculine pronouns have been used generically to refer to individuals of any gender. For example, in Swedish law, masculine pronouns are used to refer to individuals: If a shareholder sues for damages on behalf of the company, a settlement may not be reached without his consent (Swedish Code of Statutes, 1975Statutes, :1385 Empirical research has established that even when generically intended, 'he' evokes a stronger association with men than with women (Gastil, 1990;Liddicoat, 2011a;Miller & James, 2009;Moulton et al., 1978;Ng, 1990). The association between masculine generics and men has been found in many languages, such as English, German, French and Dutch (e.g., Braun et al., 2005;Redl, Eerland, & Sanders, 2018;Redl, Frank, de Swart, & de Hoop, 2021) and in children as young as age 3 (Gygax, Schoenhals, Lévy, Luethold, & Gabriel, 2019). ...
... The association between masculine generics and men has been found in many languages, such as English, German, French and Dutch (e.g., Braun et al., 2005;Redl, Eerland, & Sanders, 2018;Redl, Frank, de Swart, & de Hoop, 2021) and in children as young as age 3 (Gygax, Schoenhals, Lévy, Luethold, & Gabriel, 2019). The association was also found for other words containing lexical gender, such as 'man' and 'chairman' (Banaji & Hardin, 1996;McConnell & Fazio, 1996;Moulton, Robinson, & Elias, 1978). ...
... In addition to excluding those who identify outside of the gender binary, gender binary language unnecessarily emphasizes or marks gender, which can cause biases in information processing (Crawford & English, 1984;Bigler & Leaper, 2014). Substantial evidence suggests that language affects gender-related cognition, affect, attitudes and behavior (Arthur, et al., 2008;Bradley, 2020;Henley, 1989;Leaper, 2014;Leaper & Bigler, 2004;Moulton, et al., 1978;Moulton, et al. 2020;Signorella & Liben, 1997;Stahlberg, et al., 2007;Stout & Dasgupta, 2011). Indeed, in the recent revision of the publication manual of the American Psychological Association (APA), writers are now instructed to use "they/them/their" as singular pronouns when gender is unknown or irrelevant (APA, 2019). ...
... However, instead of using they/them/their in the singular form or "she or he," across the 20 th century up until the late 1960's, it was common for writers to use the masculine form of third person singular pronouns or "he/him/his" with a generic intention or meaning to refer to all people in general (Baranowski, 2002;Twenge, et al., 2012). Yet, it is clearly established and well known that masculine pronouns "he/him/his" intended to be generic do not function as such because they are not interpreted as generic by readers (e.g., Hamilton, 1988;Hyde, 1984;Martyna, 1980;Moulton, et al., 1978;Switzer, 1990). ...
... It is well documented that the practice of using "he" as a generic pronoun leads to problematic gender biases (see Leaper, 2014). For example, when people read content using he as a generic pronoun, they are more likely to mentally represent or picture men/boys vs. women/girls (e.g., Hamilton, 1988;Hyde, 1984;Martyna, 1980;Moulton, et al., 1978;Switzer, 1990). It also reinforces the tendency to use the masculine pronouns when the sex or gender is unknown (e.g., with animal characters in stories such as Goldilocks and the Three Bears; DeLoache, et al., 1987; see also Lambdin, et al., 2003). ...
Article
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The American Psychological Association’s (Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association, 2019) style manual recently updated its guidelines to include the use they/them/their pronouns for situations where gender is unknown or irrelevant, which includes situations involving cisgender men and women. As such, we experimentally tested whether non-binary pronouns (“they/them/their”) would function as generic and inclusive singular pronouns for cisgender men and women. As a replication and extension of previous research (i.e., Crawford and English in J Psycholinguist Res 13 (5):373–3381, https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01068152, 1984; Stout and Dasgupta in Personal Soc Psychol Bull 37 (6):757–769, https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167211406434, 2011), cisgender U.S. college students (N = 381; 269 women and 112 men; M age = 19.41 years old) were randomly assigned to read a job advertisement using: (1) masculine pronouns “he/him/his”, (2) binary pronouns such as “she or he”, or (3) singular non-binary pronouns “they/them/their”. Participants’ memory for the content of the job advertisement was tested along with assessments of sexism and belongingness (i.e., ostracism or feelings of exclusion, whether they identified with the described job, and whether they would be motivated for the work). As predicted, there were gender differences in memory scores in the masculine (men scored higher) and binary (women scored higher) pronoun conditions, but not in the non-binary condition. For all three indicators of belongingness, as predicted, men’s belongingness scores were similar across the three conditions (i.e., men were included or represented by the pronouns used in all three conditions), whereas women’s scores indicated less belongingness when masculine condition pronouns were used (i.e., where women were excluded by the pronouns used) in comparison to when the binary and non-binary pronoun were used (i.e., where women were included by the pronouns used). Together these findings provide empirical support for the use of “they/them/their” as singular non-binary pronouns to refer generically and inclusively to both cisgender men and women.
... Each person knows when his appearance is unattractive. Moulton, Robinson, and Elias (1978) have shown that when we ask someone to write a story about such a person, the main character is more likely to be described as male rather than female. When singular their or the pronoun combination his or her is used instead of his to refer back to the person, however, the written stories are more gender-balanced (Moulton et al. 1978). ...
... Moulton, Robinson, and Elias (1978) have shown that when we ask someone to write a story about such a person, the main character is more likely to be described as male rather than female. When singular their or the pronoun combination his or her is used instead of his to refer back to the person, however, the written stories are more gender-balanced (Moulton et al. 1978). Similarly, Gastil (1990) found that when a person reads a sentence such as After a patient eats, he needs to rest, they self-report to imagine the patient to be male significantly more often than when singular they or the combination of he and she is used in the sentence. ...
... The gender difference found for zijn 'his' is in line with several offline studies on English masculine generic pronouns, of which many have found the genders to differ. More specifically, when an overall male bias was found, this bias was often larger for male participants (e.g., Gastil, 1990;Hamilton, 1988;Moulton et al., 1978;Switzer, 1990;Wilson, 1978). Several possible explanations have been put forward for this phenomenon. ...
Preprint
A self-paced reading experiment tested if a generically-used masculine personal pronoun leads to a male bias in online processing. We presented Dutch native speakers (N=95, 47 male) with generic statements featuring the masculine pronoun hij ‘he’ (e.g., Someone who always promises that he will really be on time, such as Ms/Mr Knoop, will sometimes be late anyway). We further presented participants with control items expressing the same meaning, but without the pronoun. Reading times were significantly higher when a female individual was given as an example (i.e., Ms Knoop in the example above) following the masculine generic pronoun hij ‘he’, but not in the control condition. This effect did not interact with participant gender. This shows that the generically-intended masculine personal pronoun leads to a male bias in online processing for male as well as female participants. Masculine personal pronouns are still commonly used for generic reference in many languages such as Dutch, but the results of this experiment refute the notion that a pronoun such as hij ‘he’ can be readily processed as gender-neutral.
... In the 1970s, criticism of masculine generics and their ambiguity grew louder, first in the English-speaking countries [13,14] and later spreading to other countries such as Germany [15] and the Netherlands [16]. The claim that masculine generics can refer to men and women alike was challenged. ...
... Early research on masculine generics such as he and his in English soon suggested that, although intended as generic, the use of masculine generics indeed results in a male bias. For example, Moulton et al. [14] found that when a sentence about a hypothetical person featured the masculine generic pronoun his (e.g., In a large coeducational institution the average student will feel isolated in his introductory courses), this hypothetical person was thought of as male rather than female. A comparable male bias by English masculine generic pronouns was found by other researchers between the 1970s and 1990s [9,[18][19][20][21] as well as more recently [22]. ...
... However, these studies made use of rather explicit methods as a means of tapping into the hypothesized male bias, such as writing a story about a character or describing the images that came to mind when reading. For example, in their aforementioned experiment, Moulton et al. [14] provided participants with the description of a hypothetical person fitting either of two themes (i.e., being a student or being concerned with looks), and the masculine generic pronoun his was used to describe this person. Moulton et al. [14] asked their participants to write a story about a fictitious person fitting these themes. ...
Article
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Language users often infer a person’s gender when it is not explicitly mentioned. This information is included in the mental model of the described situation, giving rise to expectations regarding the continuation of the discourse. Such gender inferences can be based on two types of information: gender stereotypes (e.g., nurses are female) and masculine generics, which are grammatically masculine word forms that are used to refer to all genders in certain contexts (e.g., To each his own). In this eye-tracking experiment (N = 82), which is the first to systematically investigate the online processing of masculine generic pronouns, we tested whether the frequently used Dutch masculine generic zijn ‘his’ leads to a male bias. In addition, we tested the effect of context by introducing male, female, and neutral stereotypes. We found no evidence for the hypothesis that the generically-intended masculine pronoun zijn ‘his’ results in a male bias. However, we found an effect of stereotype context. After introducing a female stereotype, reading about a man led to an increase in processing time. However, the reverse did not hold, which parallels the finding in social psychology that men are penalized more for gender-nonconforming behavior. This suggests that language processing is not only affected by the strength of stereotype contexts; the associated disapproval of violating these gender stereotypes affects language processing, too.
... For pronouns, the available literature is of a different nature. As criticism of the use of English generically-intended masculine pronouns such as he increased starting in the 1970s, the pronoun was put to the test and overwhelmingly found to result in a male bias despite being generically-intended [7][8][9][10][11], with few exceptions [12]. However, these studies used offline methods almost exclusively and therefore did not tap into online processing but only revealed later processes. ...
... However, these studies used offline methods almost exclusively and therefore did not tap into online processing but only revealed later processes. For example, some researchers asked participants to write a story about a person based on a prompt featuring a generically-intended masculine pronoun [7,10,11] while others asked participants to describe their mental imagery after reading or listening to prompts [8,9]. The more recent research trend of testing generically-intended masculine role nouns with online methods tapping into earlier stages of processing, such as eye-tracking and EEG, has not been extended to the previously heavily researched English pronouns. ...
... We further decided to include participant gender as an independent variable in all models as opposed to Redl et al. [29] who only added this factor when it significantly improved the model fit. As explained in the Introduction, many studies on English generically-intended masculine pronouns have found that women and men can differ regarding the presence and strength of the male bias [7,8,11,43]. More specifically, these experiments revealed that men showed a stronger male bias, and that women were more likely to arrive at the generic reading. ...
Article
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Two experiments tested whether the Dutch possessive pronoun zijn ‘his’ gives rise to a gender inference and thus causes a male bias when used generically in sentences such as Everyone was putting on his shoes . Experiment 1 ( N = 120, 48 male) was a conceptual replication of a previous eye-tracking study that had not found evidence of a male bias. The results of the current eye-tracking experiment showed the generically-intended masculine pronoun to trigger a gender inference and cause a male bias, but for male participants and in stereotypically neutral stereotype contexts only. No evidence for a male bias was thus found in stereotypically female and male context nor for female participants altogether. Experiment 2 ( N = 80, 40 male) used the same stimuli as Experiment 1, but employed the sentence evaluation paradigm. No evidence of a male bias was found in Experiment 2. Taken together, the results suggest that the generically-intended masculine pronoun zijn ‘his’ can cause a male bias for male participants even when the referents are previously introduced by inclusive and grammatically gender-unmarked iedereen ‘everyone’. This male bias surfaces with eye-tracking, which taps directly into early language processing, but not in offline sentence evaluations. Furthermore, the results suggest that the intended generic reading of the masculine possessive pronoun zijn ‘his’ is more readily available for women than for men.
... A great deal of research supports the idea that he is not a generic pronoun but that it leads adults to think about male referents more than female referents (Motschenbacher 2015;Paterson 2014). For example, researchers have presented sentences containing various pronouns and analyzed the oral descriptions (Gastil 1990), sketches of images (Khosroshahi 1989), and stories (Hyde 1984;Moulton et al. 1978) that came to participants' minds. Similarly, MacKay (1980) assessed participants' identification of antecedents described by pronouns in stories, and MacKay and Fulkerson (1979) asked participants in a series of experiments to indicate as quickly as possible whether sentences containing different pronouns could refer to a female or male. ...
... These findings are not consistent with the earlier literature that employed more transparent measures (e.g. Gastil 1990;Hyde 1984;Khosroshahi 1989;Moulton et al. 1978). It may be that, at the time this study was conducted, participants were more familiar with he being used as an epicene. ...
Article
Full-text available
An epicene pronoun is a gender-neutral singular pronoun used in sentences when the gender of the subject is unknown or unspecified. In English, he and they are commonly-used epicene pronouns. Until recently, he has been widely accepted as being grammatically correct. However, many have argued that he is sexist because it may bias people to think about males. Two experiments were performed using a lexical decision task in which participants reacted to gendered words (e.g., aunt and uncle) after reading sentences using he, they, or unrelated epicene pronouns. We conducted the experiments 15 years apart in order to explore whether change in pronoun usage and the social significance of pronouns would be associated with different priming effects. Both experiments demonstrated that pronouns influence the processing of gendered nouns. However, in Experiment 1 they facilitated the processing of feminine nouns whereas in Experiment 2, he slowed the processing of feminine nouns. We discuss these results with respect to language change and conclude that they is a more effective epicene.
... The research has repeatedly demonstrated, for example, the (negative) consequences for women that masculine generics have on the interpretation, comprehension and recall of material. Empirical studies have shown that masculine generics are understood as referring to men only (MacKay and Fulkerson, 1979;Moulton, Robinson and Elias, 1978), and that people gain a predominantly masculine impression when they are used (Cole, Hill and Dayley, 1983;Schneider and Hacker, 1973). In addition they are perceived as being sexist (Briere and Lanktree, 1983;Murdock and Forsyth, 1985). ...
... Consistent with this explanation, sex differences have been found in the interpretation and use of masculine generics. Moulton, Robinson and Elias (1978) found that women used fewer masculine generic forms and more true generics than men. Martyna (1980b) found that women were more likely to draw a generic interpretation from`he' and`man' than were men. ...
... Despite this, some modern style guides (Strunk & White, 1972) have prescribed the use 'he' for generic persons, on the grounds that 'they' is plural, and therefore cannot refer to a singular antecedent, but this has been criticized as sexist, due to the assumption of male as default. Listeners tend to interpret the referent of 'he' as male, even in gender-neutral contexts (Moulton et al., 1978), and women who hear such gender-exclusive language report feeling ostracized (Stout & Dasgupta, 2011). Lee and Collins (2010) linked societal attitudes about gender equality to their representation in language textbooks. ...
Preprint
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The lack of a true gender-neutral singular personal pronoun for the third person in standard English has led to many attempts to reform the language, most of which have met with limited success. Singular/epicene ‘they’ has a long history of use, but has drawn criticism from prescriptivist grammarians. Newly coined pronouns have not gained widespread use. In order to understand factors driving resistance to or acceptance of such gender-neutral language, we asked English speakers to rate the grammaticality of sentences containing gender-neutral pronouns and non-standard uses of gendered pronouns. Respondents also completed the Big Five personality inventory and Gender Role Attitude Scale. Results indicate that singular ‘they’ is acceptable to most English speakers when referring to a hypothetical person of unknown gender. Use of ‘they’ to refer to specific individuals of unknown or non-binary gender is less acceptable, and acceptability is related to the listener’s personality and attitudes about gender roles . Individuals espousing more egalitarian or less rigid views of gender roles are more likely to rate singular ‘they’ as grammatical. Alternatives such as ‘ze’ are less acceptable even among those with more liberal attitudes about gender. The results suggest that resistance to gender-neutral language reforms (especially those challenging a gender binary) may be driven as much by gender role attitudes as by linguistic conservatism.
... There is evidence that even in explicitly gender-neutral contexts, male pronouns can lead readers to assume that a male is referred to. Thus the generic 'he' can be a cause, as well as a symptom, of sexism (Moulton, Robinson, and Elias 1978;see also Martyna 1978;Schneider and Hacker 1973;Clason 2006 There are a range of theological and scientific justifications for this, from God's creation of Eve to be Adam's "help meet" in Genesis 2 to I Peter 3:7, which refers to women as "the weaker vessel". 'Scientific' justifications come from biological sex differences which make gender roles appear innate. ...
Thesis
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Christian Education (ACE) is an individualised curriculum used in some private schools. It is known for its conservative Protestant stance and largely literal interpretation of the Bible, and for teaching every academic subject from a biblical perspective. ACE claims the curriculum is used in more than 6,000 schools worldwide, but there has so far been minimal academic research into the curriculum or students’ experiences of it. I attended an ACE school for some of my secondary education, and this thesis combines reflections on my experiences and analysis of qualitative interviews with students who were educated at ACE schools in England. These interviews give a sense of what it is like to attend an ACE school, students’ perceptions of their education and its effect on their subsequent lives. ACE promotional materials have in the past said the system is “designed for programming the mind to see life from God’s point of view”. From a liberal perspective, this raises concerns about indoctrination. I conceptualise indoctrination as education which makes students closed-minded, and argue that closed-mindedness is linked to cognitive biases and cognitive dissonance. I then examine ways in which ACE is likely to instill closed-mindedness in its students through the use of forced compliance, conformity pressures, and extrinsic rewards. While some participants found their ACE experience beneficial, the majority experienced inadequate education, sexism, homophobia, excessive punishment, and discrimination against those considered ‘ungodly’. Many participants described continued effects of indoctrination despite their rejection of ACE’s teachings. Inspection reports from ACE schools do not indicate awareness of these issues. The thesis concludes with a discussion of the possible effects of increased regulation on these schools.
... • still perceived as gendered (Moulton et al., 1978;Stout and Dasgupta, 2011) circumlocution he or she, one Strunk and White (1972) • use generic he Strunk and White (2000) • don't use generic he American Psychological Association (2010) p 79 "a pronoun must agree in number (i.e., singular or plural) with the noun it replaces." p 74 "using plural nouns or plural pronouns" is a good way to reduce gender bias. ...
Conference Paper
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The lack of a true gender-neutral personal pronoun in standard English has led to numerous attempts to reform the language, most of which have had limited success. In the past, some style guides prescribed ‘he’ for a generic person, which is today seen as sexist. Alternatives like ‘he or she’ have been criticized for assuming a gender binary. Singular/epicene ‘they’ has a long history, but has drawn criticism from prescriptivist grammarians. Newly coined pronouns have not gained wide use. Is this resistance driven by strict adherence to grammar rules (e.g., “‘they’ is plural”) or by attitudes about gender which are at odds with the goals of the linguistic change itself (e.g., “there are two genders”)? To understand factors driving resistance to or acceptance of gender-neutral language, we asked English speakers to rate the grammaticality of sentences containing gender-neutral phrasings and non-standard uses of gendered pronouns, including ‘he or she’, singular ‘they’ (for generic and specific referents), ‘it’, and ‘ze’. Personality has been linked to reactions to grammatical and spelling errors, so participants also completed the Big Five inventory. The Gender Role Attitudes Scale assessed endorsement of sexist attitudes and binary gender norms. Singular ‘they’ is acceptable to most English speakers when referring to hypothetical persons of unknown gender. ‘They’ referring to specific individuals of unknown/non-binary gender is less grammatical, but the degree of acceptability depends on the rater’s personality and gender attitudes: those who are more extraverted rate specific ‘they’ as less grammatical, and those with more transcendent gender attitudes rate it as more acceptable. Alternatives like ‘ze’ are less grammatical, regardless of gender attitudes. The results suggest that resistance to gender-neutral language (especially that which challenges a binary) may be driven as much by attitudes about gender as by linguistic conservatism.
... In the 1970s, feminists considered the generic use of masculine pronouns and masculine occupational titles problematic and "both a symptom and a source of fundamental androcentrism" (Braun et al. 2005, p. 3). Empirical studies have shown that masculine generics are androcentric because they more readily evoke mental images of men (Gastil 1990; Moulton et al. 1978). This connotation was for example shown in German where the generic masculine forms of roles and occupations were associated with men more frequently than with women (Stahlberg et al. 2001). ...
Article
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The gender-neutral third-person pronoun singular hen was recently introduced in Swedish as a complement to she (hon) and he (han). The initiative to add hen initially received strong criticism. In the present study, we analyzed 208 arguments from 168 participants with critical attitudes toward hen. We used Blaubergs’ (1980) and Parks and Roberton’s (1998) taxonomies of critical arguments against past gender-fair language reforms in English in the 1970s and 1990s as a basis for coding the arguments. A majority of arguments (80.7%) could be coded into existing categories, indicating that criticisms of gender-fair language initiatives are similar across different times and cultural contexts. Two categories of arguments did not fit existing categories (19.3%): gender-neutral pronouns are distracting in communication and gender information is important in communication. Furthermore, we established four overarching dimensions that capture assumptions and beliefs underlying gender-fair language criticism: (a) Defending the Linguistic Status Quo (39.4%), (b) Sexism and Cisgenderism (27.4%), (c) Diminishing the Issue and Its Proponents (26.9%), and (d) Distractor In Communication (6.3%). These dimensions of criticisms should be considered and addressed in different ways when implementing gender-fair language.
... These studies prompted the development of guidelines to avoid the use of gender biased or sexist language [8,20]. For example, the publisher McGraw-Hill adopted editorial guidelines to avoid sexist language [25]. It would be unfortunate to have to wait until gender biased machine learning algorithms repeat the injustices of the past before action preventing gender bias is taken. ...
Conference Paper
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Artificial intelligence is increasingly influencing the opinions and behavior of people in everyday life. However, the over-representation of men in the design of these technologies could quietly undo decades of advances in gender equality. Over centuries, humans developed critical theory to inform decisions and avoid basing them solely on personal experience. However, machine intelligence learns primarily from observing data that it is presented with. While a machine's ability to process large volumes of data may address this in part, if that data is laden with stereotypical concepts of gender, the resulting application of the technology will perpetuate this bias. While some recent studies sought to remove bias from learned algorithms they largely ignore decades of research on how gender ideology is embedded in language. Awareness of this research and incorporating it into approaches to machine learning from text would help prevent the generation of biased algorithms. Leading thinkers in the emerging field addressing bias in artificial intelligence are also primarily female, suggesting that those who are potentially affected by bias are more likely to see, understand and attempt to resolve it. Gender balance in machine learning is therefore crucial to prevent algorithms from perpetuating gender ideologies that disadvantage women.
... Beginning in the nineteenth century, grammarians prescribed the usage of male pronouns for gender-neutral contexts (Bodine 1975). However, research by psychologists has established that such masculine generic terms are not actually generic in U.S. (Gastil 1990;Moulton et al. 1978;Silveira 1980) and New Zealand (Ng 1989) samples. Hyde (1984) too showed that the generic use of he, his, and man in a story prompt elicits more male examples from participants compared to wording with gender-neutral prompts. ...
Article
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People view men as typically human, although some conditions may make this more or less likely. Language has been implicated as one factor, with masculine generic language (e.g., he used neutrally) leading to more androcentrism relative to its alternatives. However, the influence of two types of alternatives (e.g., they vs. he or she) remains unclear. The present study asked 297 male and female online participants from the United States to select typical representations of humanity from a set of White and Black male and female faces. The wording for the concept humanity was manipulated to be either a typical member of mankind, a typical human, or a typical man or woman (or woman or man). Overall, participants selected more White targets. Participants also selected more male targets, but the degree to which that was the case was affected by wording and participant’s gender. Participants, particularly male participants, in the mankind and human wording conditions were more likely to select a male target as representative, whereas in the man or woman condition, participants’ choices did not differ from chance. Thus, androcentric thinking may be more mutable than previously surmised, varying by participants’ gender and by context.
... Some have argued that when male terms, like man or he, are used generically, people perceive them as being inclusive (Strunk & White, 1979), and indeed several languages have codified the usage of masculine generics (Bodine, 1975;Hellinger & Bußmann, 2003). Yet abundant research finds that people often interpret masculine generics as specifically referencing a male person (Bojarska, 2011;Briere & Lanktree, 1983;Gastil, 1990;Hyde, 1984;Lee, 2007;Moulton, Robinson, & Elias, 1978;Ng, 1990;Silveira, 1980;Switzer, 1990;Wilson & Ng, 1988; for an exception in Chinese, see Su et al., 2016). For example, in a sentence such as "A tour guide usually receives most of his business in the summer," a majority of participants indicated that his could not refer to a woman (Miller & James, 2009). ...
Article
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Androcentrism refers to the propensity to center society around men and men’s needs, priorities, and values and to relegate women to the periphery. Androcentrism also positions men as the gender-neutral standard while marking women as gender-specific. Examples of androcentrism include the use of male terms (e.g., he), images, and research participants to represent everyone. Androcentrism has been shown to have serious consequences. For example, women’s health has been adversely affected by over-generalized medical research based solely on male participants. Nonetheless, relatively little is known about androcentrism’s proximate psychological causes. In the present review, we propose a social cognitive perspective arguing that both social power and categorization processes are integral to understanding androcentrism. We present and evaluate three possible pathways to androcentrism deriving from (a) men being more frequently instantiated than women, (b) masculinity being more “ideal” than femininity, and/or (c) masculinity being more common than femininity.
... The use of generic he in sentences that include a pronoun referring to a human antecedent of unknown gender has been critically debated for decades. While some have argued that generic he should be used when a person's gender is unknown (MacKay 1980;Cooper 1984), it has also been suggested that he cannot truly be gender-neutral, as it predominantly evokes male images and 30 consequently violates the equality between men and women (Moulton et al. 1978;Gastil 1990). The use of he in sentences such as Any English speaker can process singular they, even if he learned English in an instructional setting is perceived as sexist by some and, therefore, no longer acceptable. ...
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This article explores the online processing of singular he and she and singular they by learners of English to discover whether singular they presents a processing problem for non-native speakers (NNSs). It also examines the extent to which such issues may vary as a function of L2 proficiency at B2, C1, and C2 levels. A self-paced reading study was conducted with 51 students at an Austrian university. Results were compared with a similar study based on data collected from native speakers. We found advanced NNSs matching those of native speakers in almost all respects, and we present some evidence for developmental progression in how he, she, and they are processed. Pronoun-specific details are built up over time, and we suggest their relative strength depends on the robustness of the input. We provide self-reported production data to support this argument. This study paints a very optimistic picture of the acquisition of singular they at B2 and higher proficiency levels, as it can be acquired even under circumstances of later familiarization.
... En sociolinguistique, cette valeur discriminante du langage envers les femmeś etait déjà avancée dans les années 1970 en anglais (p.ex. Lakoff, 1975), les investigations portant principalement sur la valeur (soi-disant) générique des pronoms he (il) et his (son ou sa) et des noms de métier tels que policeman (Moulton, Robinson et Elias, 1978 ;Bem et Bem, 1973). Cesétudes, dénonçant la valeur non générique du masculin, ont même peut-être eu un impact au niveau légal,étant donné que certaines lois ont commencéà inclure le langage comme facteur discriminant. ...
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Dans cet article, nous présentons les recherches, relativement récentes, sur l’intégration du genre dans la représentation mentale d’une lectrice ou d’un lecteur, en mettant l’accent sur leurs controverses ainsi que sur les pistes encore peu (ou pas) explorées. Nous espérons ainsi susciter l’intérêt de la communauté francophone sur ce sujet, jusqu’ici relativement discrète. Au travers de cette présentation, nous souhaitons également souligner les retombées sociétales des recherches sur ce sujet, principalement au travers de l’identification de processus langagiers discriminants. Si la recherche a jusqu’ici principalement ciblé des adultes dits monolingues entre 19 et 25 ans, nous présenterons également les quelques études qui ont été menées sur les enfants entre 6 et 15 ans, un projet en cours sur des enfants entre 2 et 3 ans et quelques résultats d’une étude récente examinant l’influence du bilinguisme sur la représentation du genre.
... Des études menées en psycholinguistique montrent que les participant-es comprennent le masculin dans le sens de [+mâle] avant tout. La plupart des études a été faite en anglais (Moulton 1971 ;Moulton, Robinson, et Elias 1978 ;Hamilton 1988 ;Gastil 1990) mais les études en français tendent à corroborer celles-ci Brauer et Landry 2008 ;Gygax et al. 2009 ;Khaznadar 2012 ;Pradalier 2012a ;Pradalier 2012b) 13 . ...
... • Still perceived as gendered. (Moulton et al., 1978;Stout and Dasgupta, 2011) circumlocution he or she, one, a whole phrase • A long history in English (Balhorn, 2004). ...
... In this study, all participants were assigned pseudonyms for the purposes of data analysis and presentation of results. Due to an established historical bias in gendered pronouns (Moulton et al. 1978), we refrained from using "he" for all participants or designating the participants "he" or "she." As such, we selected gender-neutral pseudonyms to use based on the first author's language and cultural background. ...
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Structure and function is an essential crosscutting concept in undergraduate STEM education and appears in numerous disciplines and contexts from the introductory to advanced levels. This concept is exemplified by enzyme binding, a topic spanning biology, biochemistry, and chemistry. We interviewed 13 instructors with primary instructional appointments in these fields, focusing on how they think about and also teach structure and function in their courses. We focused on how they define the component terms, “structure” and “function,” their personal learning development, and how they view the interactions among these three disciplines. Overall, we found that context and terminology appear to be key factors in these conversations, as well as in the classroom. These instructors, in reflecting on their own educational development, do not consider that they developed their understanding in an undergraduate classroom. Instead, they focused on research experiences, graduate studies, postdoctoral work, or even, teaching appointments as essential points for their own knowledge. These instructors held strong opinions about interactions among the disciplines, both from the perspectives of cross-talk and what their students experience. These opinions generally center on individual instructors’ opinions of other disciplines, apparent inclination to collaborate on teaching across disciplinary lines, and general preconceptions of other fields. Overall, this work has implications on the path forward for undergraduate teaching and learning of structure and function.
... police officer, epicene they), and, after training AI models on these more gender-inclusive texts, measure the impact of gender-based data curation on gender bias. Since there exists a positive cognitive effect of using inclusive vs. sexist language [15,19,4], this effect could also be absorbed by AI systems trained on gender-inclusive text. Another auxiliary advantage of gender-inclusive training data is that systems learn to incorporate gender-inclusive phrasing, i.e. language that does not assume gender or the gender binary from the start, which can be especially useful in text generation systems. ...
Research Proposal
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Language models are becoming increasingly central to artificial intelligence through their use in online search, recommendation engines and language generation technologies. However, concepts of gender can be deeply embedded in textual datasets that are used to train language models, which can have a profound influence on societal conceptions of gender. There is therefore an urgent need for scalable methods to enable the evaluation of how gender is represented in large-scale text datasets and language models. We propose a framework founded in feminist theory and feminist linguistics for the assessment of gender ideology embedded in textual datasets and language models, and propose strategies to mitigate bias.
... This was criticized as sexist, due to the assumption of male as default. Listeners tend to interpret the referent of 'he' as male, even in gender-neutral contexts (Moulton, Robinson & Elias, 1978), and women who hear such genderexclusive language report feeling ostracized (Stout & Dasgupta, 2011). Lee and Collins (2010) linked societal attitudes about gender equality to their representation in language textbooks. ...
Article
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Because standard English lacks a true a gender-neutral singular pronoun, there has long been debate over how to refer to generic persons whose genders are unknown, or those who reject binary male or female identities. Singular (or epicene) ‘they’ has a long history as a pronoun to refer to individuals of unknown gender (Balhorn, 2004), and has also been adopted as a personal pronoun by those who identify as neither male nor female. Borthen (2010) argues based on a corpus study of Norwegian that, crosslinguistically, plural pronouns allow for vague reference, and that their lexical features (e.g., number, person) need not match their interpretation in context, which makes these pronouns prime candidates to be used in gender-neutral contexts. Chen and Wu (2011) contend that this is true for both singular and plural pronouns, but Borthen (2011) disputes this, arguing that the data show that for definite plural pronouns, but not singular, the antecedent need not be activated in the speaker's or addressee's mind, and thus can be inferred.
... Phrases like he or she, which, although more inclusive than generic he, are still prone to social biases, because they exclude those whose gender is nonbinary (i.e., neither a woman nor a man). Even though generic he has been claimed to be a gender-neutral usage, listeners tend to interpret the referent of he as male, even in gender-neutral contexts (Moulton et al., 1978). MacKay (1980) argues for a kind of empirically based prescriptivism, arguing that prescriptive guidelines provide important information for speakers and learners of a language about how to communicate effectively. ...
Article
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The lack of consensus on a true gender-neutral singular personal pronoun for the third person in standard English has led to many continuing attempts to reform the language to be more gender-neutral and to accurately refer to nonbinary persons. Singular they has a long history of use, but continues to draw criticism from prescriptivist commentators. Recent research has found that those who endorse more binary gender ideology tend to reject singular they more often than those who hold more egalitarian gender views. The present study directly compared the contributions of linguistic prescriptivism and sexism to speakers' judgments in order to determine whether resistance to singular they is driven more by strict adherence to standard grammar or instead by attitudes about gender which are at odds with the language itself. American English speakers rated the grammaticality of sentences containing singular they and also responded to measures of linguistic prescriptivism and hostile and benevolent sexism. Results indicate that resistance to gender-neutral language is driven by sexist (but not necessarily hostile) attitudes about gender as much as by linguistic conservatism, though both contribute to grammatical judgments. Such resistance is particularly hostile to innovations that challenge the gender binary. These results carry implications for both theories of pronoun reference and language reform initiatives. Ó 2020 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. Discussion of personal pronouns and their relationship to grammatical and social gender has recently risen to greater prominence both within the fields of linguistics and psychology as well as in the broader public discourse regarding gender equality. English does not have a widely accepted standard for referring to a third person in a gender-neutral way, especially in formal or written registers, and there is even less consensus regarding language for people of nonbinary gender. Parallel issues play out in other languages (e.g., hen in Swedish; Sendén, Bäck, and Lindqvist, 2015) as speakers adapt their language to keep up with changing social attitudes. The purpose of the present study is to examine the social attitudes and psychological factors driving acceptance (or lack thereof) of English singular they in various contexts, which is relevant both to understanding a linguistic phenomenon involved in ongoing changes and for informing language reform initiatives. 1. Language change and nonbinary language Although they are not subject to change as rapidly open-class lexical categories add new vocabulary, closed-class sets like pronouns are not immune to change and dialectal variation in English. Change in second-person pronouns has been well-q Thank you to
... Den første type forskning undersøger for eksempel, hvordan man opfatter generiske maskuline substantiver og pronomener, og viser, at maskuline termer brugt generisk oftest bliver opfattet som refererende kun til maend (se Moulton, Robinson & Elias 1978;Schneider og Hacker 1973;Miller & James 2009). Denne type studier viser, hvad en bestemt type kønnet sprog gør ved vores opfattelse af tekstens agenter, altså hvordan sproget skaber en bestemt kognitiv eller social bevidsthed. ...
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This paper examines the relation between gendered language and the processing of non-stereotypical gender representation through a psycholinguistic priming experiment consisting of a self-paced reading test. The experiment tests two things: The processing ease of 3rd person singular pronouns that either match or mismatch the stereotypical gender of their referents; and whether sentences with gendered language affect this. Processing ease is measured by reading time. Sentences with gendered language are used as priming; and pronouns with matching or mismatching stereotypicality as targets. The results showed no difference in the reading time of matching and mismatching pronouns, and no priming effect was found. This could point to the fact that gender stereotypical mismatch does not affect the informants; and that gendered language is so well-integrated in our language that it cannot prime for gender stereotypes. Moreover, the pronoun han was read significantly faster than the pronoun hun, which could indicate that the masculine is expected as a linguistic norm. This is considered in relation to the reflections on the missing priming effect as a result of gendered language being the norm.
... Aquests i d'altres experiments similars (Kidd, 1971;J. W. Schneider i Hacker, 1973;Harrison, 1975;Moulton, Robinson i Cherin, 1978;Stout i Dasgupta, 2011;Lisa K. Horvath, Merkel, Maass i Sczesny, 2016;Lindqvist, Renström i Gustafsson Sendén, 2018;Redl, Frank, Swart i Hoop, 2020), que comparen els efectes de canviar només els gèneres gramaticals emprats en la redacció dels textos, ens mostren que els usos lingüístics basats en el masculí gramatical (tot i vestir-se de genèrics i per molt que, per als propòsits d'una disciplina concreta, puga ser productiu dir-ne no marcats) marquen l'experiència, comporten i provoquen una visió desigual de les possibilitats d'homes i dones que sobreviu a les intencions personals de transgredir convencions de rol. A més, els estudis interlingüístics ens permeten veure que aquests resultats poden extrapolar-se (Gygax, Gabriel, Sarrasin, Oakhill i Garnham, 2008;Esaulova i Von Stockhausen, 2015) i s'han proposat agrupacions de llengües pel sistema de marques gramaticals de gènere per facilitar estudis, comparatives i interpretacions (Gygax et al., 2019). ...
Article
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Gender-inclusive language has become prominent in modern societies as a political measure for acknowledging gender-based diversity. The changes required to speak in non-sexist ways have aroused awareness but also resistance. A position that has achieved special traction in institutional contexts for some languages (including Catalan) is that masculine forms are actually the neutral form of gendered languages. Based on the absence of a morphological mark, grammar scholars use unmarked to refer to masculine forms that match the lexical root of words. This conventional meaning has been altered in using the term to intrinsically justify a semantic, communicative, sociocultural, and even symbolic neutrality of masculine forms. The argument denies or, at best, ignores the relationship between language, cognition, and society. This article reviews the knowledge accrued on that relationship on the basis of empirical studies challenging the alleged neutrality of masculine forms and assessing specific linguistic means that may counter the gender bias that looms large on our societies and how it is constructed as natural.
... Some opponents also argued that there was no need for a change, because a generic word, such as he in this case, cannot contain a bias. Still, research on generic he identified a male bias (Bem & Bem, 1973;Moulton et al., 1978). ...
Article
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The Swedish gender-inclusive pronoun hen can be used generically (referring to anyone), or specifically (referring to non-binary gender identities). Three studies tested evaluations and use of hen, and individual level predictors. In Study 1 (N = 2145) specific hen was slightly favoured over generic hen. In Study 2 (N = 297) hen was more negatively evaluated than binary pronouns, and generic hen was more positively evaluated than specific hen. In Study 3 (N = 450) hen was less frequently used compared to binary pronouns overall but preferred in generic contexts. Traditionalism mainly predicted attitudes toward generic hen and beliefs about gender as binary mainly predicted attitudes toward specific hen, although the pattern varied across studies. Because hen was preferred in generic contexts, but not in specific, this work has implications for understanding the non-acceptance of non-binary gender identities since the traditional binary notion of gender still is strong. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
... These order effects are not inconsequential: The group described first is often considered the norm and the group with higher status (Bruckmüller, Hegarty, and Abele 2012). Hence, masculine generics are not "just neutral words"; they influence people's cognition and reinforce an interpretation of the world as from a masculine perspective (Moulton, Robinson, and Elias 1978;Stout and Dasgupta 2011). ...
Article
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Gender-inclusive language, such as the Swedish pronoun hen, may aid in breaking a binary notion of gender and avoid sexism. The present study followed the implementation of a gender-inclusive third-person pronoun singular (hen) in Swedish in two surveys with representative samples in 2015 (at the time when hen was introduced in the official Swedish dictionary; N = 1212) and in 2018 (N = 2009). The surveys comprised measures of attitudes toward, and use of, hen as well as possible predictors such as area of residence, age, preferred pronoun, political orientation, and interest in gender issues. Results showed that attitudes toward hen became more positive and that use of hen increased between 2015 and 2018. About half of the population used hen in their communication in 2018, which is a 14-percentage-point increase from 2015. Younger age, she or hen as preferred pronoun, political left-wing orientation, and interest in gender issues predicted a more positive attitude and a more frequent use. Furthermore, the positive change between 2015 and 2018 was larger among younger people, indicating that hen will remain in the Swedish language. The present research is unique in that it follows a gender-fair language initiative during its implementation in representative samples, thereby providing insights for social movements aiming for gender-fair language. We also discuss the theoretical implications of a gender-inclusive pronoun in comparison with past studies on gender-fair language.
... In theory, the generic use of masculine forms intends to represent both genders, yet the assumption of its generic nature has been largely refuted in practice (Gabriel et al., 2018;Gygax et al., 2021). The masculine form is predominantly interpreted as referring to males and evoking predominantly masculine exemplars and images of masculinity (Moulton et al., 1978). This tendency has been found across several languages, highlighting that masculine forms' utilization is not interpreted generically but specifically as addressing men (for Polish Bojarska, 2011;for Spanish Carreiras et al., 1996; for French Gygax et al., 2008;for Greek Lampropoulou & Georgalidou, 2017;for German Stahlberg et al., 2001). ...
Article
Gender stereotypes and related gender discrimination are encoded in and transmitted through language, contributing to gender inequality. In this article, we review research findings on subtle linguistic means of communicating gender stereotypes and gender hierarchies. Our goal is to provide a comprehensive repository of various instances of subtle linguistic biases potentially useful in creating a text analysis toolbox to quantify gender bias in language. Our focus is predominantly on those areas that have received less attention both in research and in policy making. As gender inequalities are communicated through linguistic practices, attempts to change social reality include changes in language. Therefore, we suggest possible interventions for practices of gender equality in language.
... Finally, a Latino man in our forestry school, you will drive all of the ladies wild!-Graduate student to gay male graduate student A person's gender or partner preference cannot be determined from their physical characteristics, style of dress, manner of speaking, or social group. Therefore, gender-neutral terms such as "they," as opposed to "he/she," are useful when referring to people whose gender has not been confirmed to you or when referring to someone whose gender identity need not be revealed (Moulton et al., 1978). Gender-neutral terminology is good practice, because it helps to establish a normative experience that includes LGBTQ+ identities. ...
Article
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Individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and otherwise nonstraight and/or non-cisgender (LGBTQ+) have often not felt welcome or represented in the biology community. Additionally, biology can present unique challenges for LGBTQ+ students because of the relationship between certain biology topics and their LGBTQ+ identities. Currently, there is no centralized set of guidelines to make biology learning environments more inclusive for LGBTQ+ individuals. Rooted in prior literature and the collective expertise of the authors who identify as members and allies of the LGBTQ+ community, we present a set of actionable recommendations to help biologists, biology educators, and biology education researchers be more inclusive of individuals with LGBTQ+ identities. These recommendations are intended to increase awareness of LGBTQ+ identities and spark conversations about transforming biology learning spaces and the broader academic biology community to become more inclusive of LGBTQ+ individuals.
... Na cultura e nas línguas ocidentais, as ações voltadas às línguas com expressão justa de gênero têm se concentrado principalmente em tornar as mulheres mais salientes e reduzir o chamado preconceito masculino (STAHLBERG et al., 2007). Desde os anos de 1970 até os dias de hoje, por exemplo, o movimento feminista questiona o uso de um pronome masculino genérico para se referir às pessoas em geral (MOULTON et al., 1978;MACKAY, 1980; PHILLIPS, 1981; MURDOCK e FORSYTH, 1985). ...
Article
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O presente trabalho tem como objetivo observar os usos do pronome êla no português brasileiro, apontando as motivações sociais que possam condicionar sua escolha. Os resultados preliminares apontam um uso predominante do pronome êla por indivíduos socioeconomincamente vulneráveis. Foi observada uma gradação quanto à afetividade ligada ao pronome: seu uso está vinculado a contextos em que indivíduos homossexuais cisgêneros e trangêneros femininos desempenham atividades associadas ao feminino, apresentando predominantemente representação de afeto negativo quando usado por indivíduos heterossexuais, por um lado, e afeto positivo quando utilizado por indivíduos LGBT. Este fator, a nosso ver, dificulta a implementação desse pronome na língua.
... . A growing body of research proves this point to be right. When one hears masculine generic language, one mainly sees pronoun referents as being male (Gygax, Gabriel, Sarrasin, Oakhill, & Garnham, 2008;Hamilton, 1988;Moulton, Robinson, & Elias, 1978). Other research suggests that sexist language perpetuates male privilege (Kleinman, 2002), influences children's gender schemas (Hyde, 1984), limits the perception of vocational choices for women (Briere & Lanktree, 1983), influences perceptions of status and competence (Merkel, Maass, & Frommelt, 2010), and even makes women feel ostracized (Stout & Dasgupta, 2011). ...
Article
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A good number of studies in the past have examined the language of sexism from the feminist perspectives, gender segregation and degradation, among others, using semiotics resources, discourse analysis, multimodal discourse, among other theories. This study looks at the linguistic and non-linguistic language features of sexist language as choices available to language users on the Facebook social media platform. Using the multimodal theory as the framework, the study examines 10 randomly selected Facebook posts with texted pictures and comments posted by Nigerians with elements of sexism. The study also engaged the descriptive research design to examine the ‘textedpictures’ used as sampled data. These sampled data were given in-depth analysis to reveal their usually hidden and laughed-about sexist messages. The analysis of data was considered by determining the existence of sexist communication on Facebook platform, examining the meaning making elements in sexist languages posts. This is precipitated on the discovery that less attention is paid on the signification of the communicative elements deployed to convey sexism on the Facebook platform. From the analysis, the study finds out that Facebook users engage linguistic and non-linguistic elements symbolising sexist language on Facebook postings; that the posts on Facebook rely predominantly on both written texts and pictures, combined to make the tagging or stereotyping concrete; that the sexist posts on Facebook platforms rely heavily on hasty or intentional generalisation in order to demean the sex they chose to target through texts, pictures and the combination of texts and pictures.
Article
Investigated whether 36 kindergarten and 36 1st-grade children, like college students, would give male-biased responses to a "he" presentation and examined how Ss would respond to the use of "they" and "he or she" pronoun presentations. The effects of pronoun use on memory were also investigated, as were possible sex differences in responding. Each S was assigned to 1 of 3 pronoun presentation groups, each of which contained an equal number of girls and boys. Ss in the different groups listened to the exact same story except that Group I Ss heard the pronoun "they" used throughout the story, Group 2 Ss heard "she" or "he" used throughout the story, and Group 3 Ss heard the pronoun "he" throughout the story. Ss were then asked to retell the story and were shown pictures of a boy and a girl and asked to indicate which one the story was about. Results support the pronomial dominance theory of pronoun functioning for young children. Results also support the hypothesis that boys initially use a self-imaging response to neutral presentations. The time of transition away from this response was identified as the 1st-grade level. There was no indication that kindergarten or 1st-grade girls use the self-imagining approach. The "they" presentation appeared to be the most neutral. (18 ref)
Article
A series of recent studies have investigated the impact of male referents such as “he” and “mankind” on the gender that listeners and readers attribute to a statement. A review of these experiments provides compelling evidence that underrepresentation of similar female referents leads people to attribute the roles presented as more representative of males than females. The review also suggests that the attributional bias is robust and not attenuated by a variety of stimulus and response conditions. Actual under-representation of female referents has been documented in children's readers, preschool picture books, and some adult communications. Selected documentation of underrepresentation has occurred for college textbooks in marriage and family studies, introductory sociology, and graduate study in psychology. A broader, more representative sample of female representation in college textbooks was judged to be needed. The current research program involved two natural process experiments conducted on a random sample of introductory-level texts. This article reports the findings from the second experiment, confirms those of the first, and establishes generalizability. Textbooks from different disciplines were analyzed for representation of females and males in genetically intended nouns and pronouns, examples, pictures of people in authority, pictures of employed or active people, and pictures of groups of people. In every analysis females were significantly underrepresented.
Article
This article presents results from two complementary experiments that examine the effects of a potential obstacle to female leadership: gendered language in the form of masculine leadership titles. In the first experiment (N = 1753), we utilize an unobtrusive writing task to find that a masculine title (“Chairman” vs. “Chair”) increases assumptions that a hypothetical leader is a man, even when the leader’s gender is left unspecified. In the second experiment (N = 1000), we use a surprise recall task and a treatment that unambiguously communicates the leader’s gender to find that a masculine title increases the accuracy of leader recollection only when the leader is a man. In both studies, we find no significant differences by gender of respondents in the effects of masculine language on reinforcing the link between masculinity and leadership. Thus, implicitly sexist language as codified in masculine titles can reinforce stereotypes that tie masculinity to leadership and consequently, weaken the connection between women and leadership.
Chapter
Was hat Sprache mit Geschlecht zu tun? Wenn wir an Geschlecht und Geschlechtsunterschiede denken, ist die Sprache sicher nicht das erste, was uns dazu einfällt. Umgekehrt ist beim Thema “Sprache” die erste Assoziation auch nicht gerade das Geschlecht. Und doch tauchen in der öffentlichen Diskussion sowie in privaten Gesprächen immer häufiger Fragen auf, die den eher unterschwelligen Zusammenhang von Sprache und Geschlecht thematisieren. Man — oder frau — diskutiert über das große I, macht Witze über Emanzen und Efrauzen oder klagt über das unkooperative Kommunikationsverhalten von Männern.
Chapter
Seit Ende der sechziger Jahre gibt es die neue Frauenbewegung. Ausgehend von den USA (im Anschluß an die Bürgerrechtsbewegung) hat sie sich im Laufe der siebziger Jahre zu einer starken internationalen Bewegung entwickelt. Wie jede politische Bewegung befaßt auch sie sich eingehend mit. Sprache; vor allem übt sie Sprachkritik in sowohl konstatierend-analytischer als auch in “umstürzlerischer”, d.h. sprach-schöpferischer Weise: Die Herrschaft des männlichen Prinzips in der Sprache wird entweder kritisch festgestellt2 oder durch das Erfinden und Verwenden neuer Regeln und Redeweisen gebrochen.3 Im deutschen Sprachraum dürfte das neue Indefinitpronomen frau anstelle des oder neben dem früher alleinregierenden man die provokanteste und bekannteste Sprachneuerung sein.
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This study investigated pronoun choices made by third-grade, eighth-grade, and college students on a written production task for 10 agent words which could be of either male or female gender. Masculine pronouns were the predominant choice by all age groups for five words, and feminine pronouns for one word. Four words showed variation across age groups. Both prescriptive grammar rules and knowledge of the world were considered as possible explanations for these results.
Chapter
Language and talk are central to the creation and reproduction of inequality. In this chapter, we address three major questions: How is inequality visible in language and talk? How do language and talk create and sustain inequalities? And how do people respond to inequality—whether to resist it, negotiate it, or manage it—through language and talk? After discussing the diverse intellectual roots of social psychological research on language, we review the current literature, focusing in turn on words and other elementary elements of talk, utterances, interaction, and discourse. We conclude with a critical evaluation of the field, noting the need for social psychologists to focus on a broader range of different types of inequality, synthesize findings across theoretical perspectives, disciplines, and dimensions of inequality, and attend to intersectionality and social structure.
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With the increasing attempts to use gender-fair language, different studies have investigated this issue from different viewpoints. To find an epicene pronoun used as a third-person singular, some research has been conducted investigating them in various contexts, yet few studies have focused on cultural differences. Since how to use language differs among cultures, this study aims to investigate and compare the use of epicene pronouns (he, she, he/she, and singular they) among Iranian and Polish Non-Native Speakers (NNSs) of English with different cultures, social backgrounds, and L1s (in terms of gender markedness; Iran with a genderless-grammar language, and Poland with a grammatical-gender language). A survey containing sentences and questions was given to 64 university learners in 4 contexts (indefinite noun, feminine, masculine, and neutral connotations) to choose the most suitable pronouns while exploring the reasons for choices followed by the source of learning. The results revealed that singular they was the highest deployed pronoun in all four contexts, with no significant difference between Iranian and Polish learners. Furthermore, gender neutrality was mentioned most as the main reason for their selection of choices. Finally, roughly half the Polish students and about a third of Iranian participants had already heard about singular they, with private institutions and schools were respectively mentioned as their main sources of this knowledge.
Chapter
We are currently in a period of transition from an understanding and experience of late adulthood and old age that was valid for thousands of years to a new age of old age. In the United States, for example, the number of people over the age of 60 will increase by 16 million in the next 30 years, an increase of 50% over the current 32 million. These older people will be better educated, healthier, and better organized politically. They will expect a higher level of educational and recreational opportunities, health benefits, and other social services than what is now provided. There will likely be profound changes in how older people perceive themselves and how society in general regards older people.
Book
In this innovative book, four prominent philosophers of education introduce readers to the central debates about the role of gender in educational practice, policymaking, and theory. More a record of a continuing conversation than a statement of a fixed point of view, The Gender Question in Education enables students and practicing teachers to think through to their own conclusions and to add their own voices to the conversation. Throughout, the authors emphasize the value of a gender-sensitive perspective on educational issues and the relevance of an ethics of care for educational practice. Among the topics discussed are feminist pedagogy, gender freedom in public education, androgyny, sex education, multiculturalism, the inclusive curriculum, and the educational significance of an ethics of care. The multiauthor, dialogic structure of this book provides unusual breadth and cohesiveness as well as a forum for the exchange of ideas, making it both an ideal introduction to gender analysis in education and a model for more advanced students of gender issues.
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This work explores the order of linguistic references to the two genders (e.g., men and women vs. women and men). It argues that a gender is more likely to be mentioned first when it is perceived to have higher relevance in a context rather than lower relevance, and audiences assign stronger relevance to a party when the party is mentioned first rather than second. Studies 1–3 document the current prevalence of male-first conjoined phrases in the public (but not family) domain and link the pattern to historical changes in women’s public presence over the 20th century. Study 4 shows that contextual relevance cues affect the odds of first mention, such that people are more likely to refer to a woman before a man, when the two are in a primary school classroom rather than a corporate office. At the same time, Studies 4 and 5 find that people often choose to reproduce collectively preferred word order patterns (e.g., men and women). Studies 6 and 7 show that these choices matter because people assign more relevance to a party when it comes first rather than second in a conjoined phrase. Overall, this work offers theoretical grounding and empirical evidence for word order as a means of expressing and perpetuating gender stereotypes.
Article
This article presents a Minimalist syntactic analysis of sociopragmatically conditioned gender features on pronouns. To account for inter- and intra-speaker variation, I locate the parameter for social gender in the presence or absence of an unvalued gender feature on the phase head D. Supporting this analysis, I show that variation in English speakers’ acceptability and use of definite, specific singular they, as in (i), is sensitive to reference; this sensitivity is robustly explained by the location of gender features on D. (i) Taylor i is writing their i own autobiography. For speakers who report (i) as ungrammatical, a crash results from the uGender feature on D remaining unvalued. For innovative speakers, uGender is not present on D and no crash results from a lack of gender features. This analysis explains why a pragmatic feature like social gender can cause true syntactic ungrammaticality, since the narrow syntax encodes certain pragmatic features as obligatory.
Article
Представлено исследование особенностей проявления концептуально описанных С. Бем гендерных линз (андроцентризма и поляризации) при восприятии гендерно­-нейтральных изображений русскоязычными респондентами (N = 302, 218 женщин, 17–57 лет) с различными характеристи­ками гендерной идентичности и гендерных стереотипов. Процедура включает экспериментальный и ди­ агностический этапы. На экспериментальном этапе последовательно предъявлялось 12 черно­-белых рисунков гендерно­нейтрально изображенного животного (кота/кошки) рядом с предметами, задаю­щими один из гендерных контекстов: нейтральный, феминный, маскулинный. На диагностическом этапе применялись: опросник “Мужские нормативные установки” И.С. Клециной и Е.В. Иоффе; “Опросник структуры сексизма” Е.С. Зизевской и М.А. Щукиной; опросник “Маскулинность, фемин­ ность и гендерный тип личности” О.Г. Лопуховой. Обнаружено, что в 97% случаев в процессе восприя­тия происходит наделение изображения животного половой принадлежностью. При этом животное воспринималось как кот чаще (в 7.3 раза при учете всех актов восприятия, в 8.8 — при анализе восприя­тия в целом), что свидетельствует о наличии у русскоязычных респондентов линзы андроцентризма при восприятии гендерно­нейтральных изображений. Пол, гендерная структура и возраст респондентов не оказывают значимого влияния на приписывание пола животному. Линза поляризации была акти­вирована у 10% респондентов и проявлялась через влияние гендерной окрашенности контекстов на вос­приятие, при этом стимулы “коляска” и “вышивание” приводили к тому, что животному относитель­но чаще приписывался женский пол. Стереотипно­феминный контекст в качестве первого стимула в последовательности предъявлений оказывает значимое влияние на восприятие пола животного толь­ко у мужчин. Активации линзы поляризации способствует наличие у респондентов гендерных и сек­систских стереотипов независимо от их пола, возраста и гендерной идентичности. We investigated how gender lenses (androcentrism and polarization) conceptualized by S. Bem dis­ play themselves in perception of gender­neutral images by Russian participants (N = 302, 218 female, age 17– 57) with various characteristics of gender structure and stereotypes. The procedure included experimental and diagnostic stages. During the first stage, 12 black­ and ­white pictures of an animal (a cat) in neutral/mascu­line/feminine contexts were shown. Russian version of the Male Attitude Norms Inventory (Kletsina I., Iof­ fe E.), Sexism Structure Inventory (Zizevskaia E., Shchukina M.), Masculinity, Femininity and Gender Type of Personality Inventory (Lopuhova O.) were used in the diagnostic stage. It was found that in 97% cases the image of the animal was constructed as having a particular sex. The animal was seen as a male cat more often (7.3 times more when counting each act of perception and 8.8 times when analyzing perception of each indi­vidual), which indicates the presence of lens of androcentrism in perception of gender ­neutral images. Sex, gender structure and age of participants didn’t have an influence on constructing gender of the animal. Lens of polarization was activated in 10% of participants and it displayed itself through the influence of gender­ste­ reotyped context on perception, while the stimuli “baby carriage” and “embroidering” made participants per­ ceive the animal as female more often. When the first stimulus was a feminine­stereotyped one, it influenced only male participants. Activation of lens of polarization was correlated with accepting the conventional norms of masculinity and sexism, and was not correlated with sex, age and gender structure. Keywords: perception, sex, gender, lenses of gender, lens of androcentrism, lens of polarization, gender­neu­ tral image.
Conference Paper
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The lack of a gender-neutral third-person pronoun in standard English has led to numerous attempts to reform the language, most of which have had limited success. In the past, style guides prescribed generic 'he', which is today seen as sexist (Moulton et al., 1978), and alternatives like he or she have been criticized for assuming a gender binary. Singular they has a long history (Balhorn, 2004), and has recently gained attention as a pronoun for those with nonbinary gender. Previous research (AUTHOR et al., 2017) found that English speakers widely accepted singular they in a generic sense and largely rejected novel pronouns (ze/zir). Singular they in a specific sense was acceptable to some speakers and rejected by others; those who endorsed more conservative/binary gender ideology tended to reject specific they, while those who held more liberal/egalitarian gender views rated specific they highly. The present study focused on singular they and directly compared the effects of linguistic prescriptivism and sexism on speakers' judgments. Is resistance to singular they driven by strict adherence to grammar rules (e.g., “they is plural”) or by attitudes about gender which are at odds with the goals of the linguistic change itself (e.g., “there are only two genders”)? 125 (full N=200) speakers of (primarily American) English rated the grammaticality of sentences containing singular they referring to hypothetical or specific persons (named and unnamed), generic uses of gendered pronouns, name-pronoun mismatches (e.g., he referring to Sally), and grammatical/ungrammatical controls. To measure linguistic prescriptivism, participants indicated (dis)agreement with 30 statements reflecting common prescriptive attitudes about grammar (e.g., "double negatives are illogical"). The Ambivalent Sexism Inventory (Glick & Fiske, 1996) was used to assess two forms of sexism: hostile sexism refers to attitudes typically thought of as "sexist" in the sense of denigrating to women (e.g., “women are too easily offended”), while benevolent sexism refers to attitudes which are framed as positive but which can nonetheless be detreimental to gender equality (e.g., “a good woman should be set on a pedestal by her man”). Respondents also indicated their awareness of transgender/nonbinary identities and terminology. Grammaticality ratings were regressed on benevolent sexism, hostile sexism, and prescriptivism. Benevolent sexism was a strong predictor of lower ratings for specific they and for name-pronoun mismatches, while neither hostile sexism nor linguistic prescriptivism were significant predictors of grammaticality. In line with previous results, generic they was largely acceptable to English speakers, although benevolent sexism still had a moderate negative effect. The results indicate that resistance to gender-neutral language is: 1. driven by conservative (not necessarily hostile) attitudes about gender more than by linguistic conservatism. 2. particularly hostile to innovations that challenge the gender binary (i.e., they as a personal pronoun). Implications for theories of pronoun reference (Borthen, 2010) and language reform will be discussed, including the finding that grammatical judgments of singular they may be affected by respondents' personal acquantaince with transgender/nonbinary individuals.
Article
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The present study examined predictors of the intention to become vaccinated against COVID-19 among the Slovenian public. A cross-sectional, non-probability sample was collected through an online survey in March and April 2020 (N = 826; Mage=33.2 years). We tested four groups of predictors: demographic and socioeconomic characteristics, health status and political (left–right) orientation. Our ordinal regression model explained 44% of the variance in COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy. All six predictors had a significant impact on vaccine hesitancy, which was significantly higher among women, among 30–39-year-olds, the less educated, the self-employed and unemployed, those reporting excellent self-rated health and those with a centrist political orientation (followed by right-oriented respondents). Implications of the results are discussed. [V pričujoči raziskavi smo proučevali napovedovalce namere za cepljenje proti covidu-19 med slovensko javnostjo. Presečni, neverjetnostni vzorec je bil pridobljen s spletno anketo med marcem in aprilom 2020 (N = 826; Mstarost = 33,2 leta). Analizirali smo štiri skupine napovedovalcev oklevanja: demografske in socioekonomske napovedovalce, zdravstveni status in politično usmeritev (levo/desno). Naš ordinalni regresijski model je razložil 44 % variance v oklevanju pred cepljenjem proti covidu-19. Vseh šest napovedovalcev je učinkovalo na oklevanje pred cepljenjem, ki je bilo statistično značilno višje med ženskami in med 30–39-letniki, nižje pa med manj izobraženimi, samozaposlenimi in brezposelnimi, tistimi z odličnim samoocenjenim zdravjem in tistimi s sredinsko politično usmeritvijo (sledili so desno usmerjeni anketiranci). V sklepnem delu prispevka razpravljamo o implikacijah rezultatov naše raziskave.]
Article
We present an investigation on syntactic parsing by means of eye tracking techniques, which is framed around the debate of the restriction-based models of connectionist nature. The objective is to determine if gender stereotypes, as shared beliefs, influence syntactic parsing. The participants were 35 university students, who read sentences in which, in one condition, gender stereotypes were fulfilled and in the other condition, they were violated. All the sentences had the structure: subject (S) + verb (V) + direct object (DO) + indirect object (IO) + adjunct (El padre le compró un vestido a su hija/o para su cumpleaños). The DO corresponds to a noun phrase that, in conjunction with S, suggest a gender stereotype. In IO, the addressee varied in grammatical gender in each case, thus, fulfilling or violating the gender stereotype. Significant differences were found in the total fixation duration of each type of sentence. In addition, there were significant differences in regressions from IO to DO. This suggests that there is an interruption of incremental processing when readers read the IO that violates the stereotype causing a rereading of DO in order to reconfirm the initial interpretation. The results support constraint-based models beyond a lexicalist perspective, since general knowledge of the world does influence the construction of syntactic interpretation.
Chapter
Language is at the core of human interaction, and it is at the core of our beings, our sense of self. An attack on our language is in a very real sense an attack on ourselves; as we know, wars large and small have been fought over language. Small wonder then that people are upset about the issue of sex bias in language. We are upset as speakers of the language because we identify with it: an attack on our language as unfair says that we are ourselves unfair. And we are upset as referents of the language (particularly women and girls) because in referring to us the language often seems to be attacking us. Why do I say the language, and not its speakers, are attacking us? Because well-meaning, nonsexist speakers may, simply by conventional usage, unwittingly use the language as conscious misogynists do: to trivialize, ignore, and demean females. Thus the problem is located in the common language, not solely or necessarily in the intents of its speakers.
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