Guidelines for Nonsexist Usage
(printable version here)
Some professors and executives consider the use of the gendered pronouns "his" and "her" inappropriate. The university has also issued a directive that faculty educate students about this issue.
Often these questions will arise when pronouns such as "each," "everyone," "either," or "neither" appear in a sentence. Some tips follow for making usage more inclusive:
- Avoid gender entirely by rewriting the sentence, avoiding the pronoun or using plurals whenever possible:
- Neither student gave his homework to the teacher ---> Neither of the students gave homework to the teacher.
- Use "his or her" in place of "his" or "s/he" in place of "he" or "she" Note: This can sound a bit awkward:
- Everyone on the scene gave his or her version of the accident.
- When you visit the Writing Center, ask your Consultant if s/he has taken Core.
- Use a specific noun instead of a pronoun:
- A man who loves his family must support it. ---> Parents who love their families must support them.
- Exception: A father who loves his family must support it. (Here, one wants to make a point about fathers).
- Use "their" with a single noun:
- "Everyone was concerned about their grades."
- Beware: this usage of "their" is not grammatically correct: it pairs a noun that should take a singular pronoun with a plural pronoun.
- Do not use this last method without a professor's approval.
Back to 'Clarity and Style'
Writer's Web | Writing Center | Make
an Appointment | Library