Gendered Wording

A couple of months ago I posted about podcasts. One of the ones I listen to is Grammar Girl. Recently, one of the features was about gendered suffixes on certain nouns.

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            A main point of the story was that gender-specific nouns are going out of style, and very few are regularly used in modern English. Good. My colleague down the hall is an Editor for JGR Atmospheres, and I couldn’t imagine calling her an Editrix.

This goes along with the gender-neutral responses post about removing the assumed “he/his/him” in author responses to anonymous reviewers. The overwhelming feedback I received was to use the plural “they/their” instead. I also like the more personal “you/your” but this often requires rewriting the sentence.

In the 6 months since that post, I keep seeing the use of masculine pronouns to refer to anonymous “others” in our field. Most of the cases I see are in JGR Space Physics author responses, as before, but also in other writings. Please stop.

Being an English-speaking white male, I am not directly familiar with being the minority in a scientific setting. I have been doing some reading on this topic, recently, though, including Eileen Pollack’s new book, “The Only Woman in the Room.” It’s a powerful personal narrative of her time as a young woman interested in science, including being a Physics major at Yale. It also includes details of the dozens of interviews she conducted in the last few years on this topic, demonstrating the truth of the book’s subtitle, “Why Sciences is Still a Boy’s Club.” It goes along with a post about a year ago about Dana Hurley’s Eos article, “Women Count.”

The number of women in the room matters. The little things we say and write matter. The choices we make in our everyday lives matter. Being aware that a problem still exists is a big step towards changing attitudes and behaviors.  Including in your JGR Space Physics correspondence.

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6 thoughts on “Gendered Wording

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