Posted by: episystechpubs | June 5, 2014

Editor’s Corner: Gender Neutrality in Terms

About a year ago, I sent out a list of gender-neutral job titles (Editor’s Corner – July 19, 2013). While researching a question from one of you about non-neutral titles, I ended up at the same resource I used before. Today I’m going to give you another taste of the gender neutral version of some titles and terms. I have to say that the neutral terms take some of the pizzazz out of the original term; but when you want to be safe from offending someone, you should consider the terms on this list. Here are a few terms I selected for you from Writing Help Central. I can’t imagine the folks in our Human Resources battle with these titles and terms too often.

Instead of this… Use this… Kara’s Comments
brotherly love charity, good will Welcome to Philadelphia—the City of Charity and Good Will!
frog man diver I can’t say I’ve ever heard people refer to divers as frog men, but as far as “job titles” go, frog man (or frog woman) sounds much cooler to me than diver.
henchman partner in crime This is one of those where “King Geoffrey’s henchmen kidnapped Lady Guinevere from the stagecoach” sounds much more menacing than “King Geoffrey’s partners in crime…”
gunman shooter, killer, assassin I just want to note that this guy’s web site (Shaun Fawcett’s Writing Help Central) lists about five different gender specific “job titles” for a hit man, followed by a hardy assortment of gender neutral terms.
jack-of-all-trades handyperson Suddenly the saying “I’m a jack-of-all-trades, master of none” loses its oomph in “translation”: “I’m a handyperson at everything, expert at nothing.”
letterman achiever, award winning athlete The young men and women on the high school swim team could not wait to get their award-winning athletes’ jackets.
man of action go-getter, human dynamo As someone who has referred to myself as a “woman of action,” I can’t imagine ever saying, “Yes folks, I’m a real human dynamo." Barf.
meter maid parking enforcement officer And suddenly, The Beatles’ song is much less charming:

Lovely Rita parking enforcement officer
May I inquire discreetly (Lovely Rita)
When are you free to take some tea with me?
(Lovely Rita, parking enforcement officer, ah)

yes-man avid follower, supporter I don’t think “avid follower” or “supporter” really captures the gist of this word being used as a synonym for “brown-noser.” J

Kara Church

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  1. […] police officer (rather than policeman) and mail carrier (rather than mailman). Kara has covered this topic before, but I read a good article, and I like to […]

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