Posted by: episystechpubs | May 2, 2013

Editor’s Corner: Yeah, boy!

I received quite a few responses to yesterday’s e-mail. They ranged from the interesting and clever to those that completely missed the point. And then there was my Mom’s solution: “Instead of he or she, I prefer babe.” I suppose we could spice up our documentation with some of that.

Scenario: A member walks into your financial institution and babe wants to deposit $12,500 to savings and $1,000 to checking. After you perform this transaction, babe asks to open a CD for $5,000.

Well, I’ve got to give her credit for trying! Now for the next three suggestions on “Ten Ways to Avoid Gender Bias” from DailyWritingTips.com:

3. Omit the Pronoun

Before: “Ask the student whether he is prepared to give a presentation.”
After: “Ask whether the student is prepared to give a presentation.”

This revision does not clearly indicate whether the student or another person is being asked; writers must recognize and respond to such lack of clarity if it affects comprehension. [KC – Depending on what precedes this sentence, this method can work well.]

4. Repeat the Noun in Place of the Pronoun

Before: “Ask the student whether he is prepared to give a presentation.”
After: “Ask the student whether the student is prepared to give a presentation.”

When the noun is repeated in the proximity shown above, the sentence is awkward; in a more complex sentence, the repetition may not seem so obvious. [KC – This is definitely stilted and sounds horrible.]

5. Use a Plural Antecedent for the Pronoun

Before: “Ask the student whether he is prepared to give a presentation.”
After: “Ask the students whether they are prepared to give their presentations.”

Employing a plural noun and a plural pronoun may change the meaning somewhat; writers must be alert as to which other nouns, if any, should be made plural as well. [KC – This can be a good solution, but sometimes you just need to talk about a
single customer or a single member. Generally people don’t come into a financial institution to do transactions as a big group.

Important:
A common error is to use “they” to avoid the gender-bias. For example, instead of “The CEO called a meeting because
he needed to deliver some fantastic news,” you might see or hear “The CEO called a meeting because
they wanted to deliver some fantastic news.” This is grammatically incorrect, since CEO is a singular noun, and “they” is a pronoun for more than one person.]

Kara Church

Senior Technical Editor

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

www.symitar.com

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