Language

Language is a powerful vehicle of ideas and representations, and as such, can highlight, accentuate, or befog certain characteristics of the world. In the androcentric context of our societies, language – in its use and structure – biases our perception of the world, most often to the disadvantage of women, or for that matter, any person that does not identify as being a man. Different language strategies have therefore been suggested to promote more neutral forms of language, echoing the growing need for more equal treatment for all.  

 

The present non-sexist and inclusive language guide, written by Pascal Gygax, is therefore intended for those who wish to adopt a more inclusive and non-sexist way of communicating. Although the present guide does not exhaustively cover all issues pertaining to non-sexist language, it covers four of the most important. A basic principle may guide your search for non-sexist language: when possible, and when it is not relevant, please try to avoid any explicit mention of gender.

 

This is not only important in terms of equal visibility and treatment of women and men, but also allows to go beyond the binary notion of gender. As such, try to consider gender as a continuum in your communications and discourse, to encompass all those that identify themselves neither with women nor with men. The American Psychology Association for reducing bias provides detailed principles to do so.

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Non-sexist language guide for Swiss universities communicating in English