The Washington Post has made it official. Well at least among their staff and in their newspaper’s pages. They have formally accepted the usage of “they” as a singular pronoun to represent a gender-ambiguous person. Woohoo! Go Bill Walsh!
Even more: the American Dialect Society has declared the singular they to be the 2015 Word of the Year. I didn’t know there even was such a society out there, but wow, thanks for seeing this an important word to recognize and honor. Here’s their logo:
These two acknowledgments of singular they as a legitimate choice as a gender-neutral pronoun tips the scale for me. I will, from now on, strive to use “they” whenever the gender of the person is unknown. I urge you to the same, especially in your JGR Space Physics correspondence, like referring to an anonymous reviewer.
I am passionate about this because our field of space physics/solar physics/planetary physics/aeronomy is highly male dominated. The microaggression of using a male pronoun permeates a negative climate towards women in the field and works against our community’s efforts to achieve gender equity.
As longtime readers of this blog know, I’ve had a few posts on this topic. There was one in November and another back in May on exactly this topic. It came to my attention again because, well, Grammar Girl brought it up as a recent “meaty middle” to one of her podcasts. Thanks, GG.