Write the following words on the board:
humankind, firefighter, worker, chairperson, police officer, business executive, fisher, homemaker
Check that students understand all these words. Then tell them that these are sometimes called gender-neutral words; that is, they are used to avoid using another word which may be considered sexist. Ask students to suggest what the alternative words might be.
(answers: mankind, fireman, workman, chairman, policeman, businessman, fisherman, housewife)
Dictate or project the following quote from a newspaper style guide:
“Our use of language reflects our values, as well as changes in society. Phrases such as career girl or career woman, for example, are outdated (more women have careers than men) and patronising (there is no male equivalent).”*
Do students agree? Do they think these terms are better to use? Could any elements of their own language be considered “sexist”? How and why?
* from the Guardian style guide.