Monday, February 24, 2014

Bias-Free Writing

Have you ever wondered how to write without a gender bias?

Why use inclusive language?

Why avoid the generic he or all-encompassing men?


Writing without bias is important. The writer does not want to offend the reader or audience and wants to included all. Inclusive language engages both male and female readers.

But how can writers avoid gender bias in their writing?

The Chicago Manual of Style explains nine helpful techniques of how to achieve gender neutrality in writing. One option may not fix all problems when writing so be open to trying other tips below. Slight changes in meaning are possible when writing so be prepared to edit and rewrite. The nine techniques include the following:  

  1. Omit the pronoun: "The programmer should update the records when data is transferred to her by the head office" becomes "The programmer should update the records when data is transferred by the head office."
  2. Repeat the noun: "A writer should be careful not to needlessly antagonize readers, because her credibility will suffer" becomes "A writer should be careful not to needlessly antagonize readers, because the writer’s credibility will suffer."
  3. Use a plural antecedent: "A contestant must conduct himself with dignity at all times" becomes "Contestants must conduct themselves with dignity at all times."
  4. Use an article instead of a personal pronoun: "A student accused of cheating must actively waive his right to have his guidance counselor present" becomes "A student accused of cheating must actively waive the right to have a guidance counselor present."
  5. Use the neutral singular pronoun one: "An actor in New York is likely to earn more than he is in Paducah" becomes "An actor in New York is likely to earn more than one in Paducah."
  6. Use the relative pronoun who (works best when it replaces a personal pronoun that follows if): "Employers presume that if an applicant can’t write well, he won’t be a good employee" becomes "Employers presume that an applicant who can’t write well won’t be a good employee."
  7. Use the imperative mood: "A lifeguard must keep a close watch over children while he is monitoring the pool" becomes "Keep a close watch over children while monitoring the pool."
  8. Use he or she (sparingly): "If a complainant is not satisfied with the board’s decision, then he can ask for a rehearing" becomes "If a complainant is not satisfied with the board’s decision, then he or she can ask for a rehearing."
  9. Revise the clause: "A person who decides not to admit he lied will be considered honest until someone exposes his lie" becomes "A person who denies lying will be considered honest until the lie is exposed."
See more in The Chicago Manual of Style.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I thought this was really helpful, and something I hadn't thought about too much in the past, but now I'm determined to try and eliminate gender bias from my writing. Thank you for the helpful tips!

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