Guidelines for Non-sexist Language Use

It is policy of St. Catherine University that all course work and publications use non-sexist/inclusive language. Among models to which students and faculty may refer is the National Council of Teachers of English's (NCTE) publication, "Guidelines for Non-sexist Use of Language in NCTE Publications," available in the O'Neill Center for Academic Development and in the Abigail Quigley McCarthy Center for Women.

Examples of alternatives offered by such guidelines include:
  • Instead of ‘mankind’, use ‘humanity'
  • Instead of ‘man-made’, use ‘synthetic'
  • Instead of ‘chairman’, use ‘chair’, ‘coordinator’, ‘head’
  • Instead of ‘businessman’, use ‘business person’ or ‘business executive'
  • Instead of ‘fireman’, use ‘firefighter'
  • Instead of ‘freshman’, use ‘first-year student'
  • Instead of ‘mailman’, use ‘mail carrier'
  • Instead of ‘policeman’, use ‘police officer’
  • Instead of ‘stewardess’, use ‘flight attendant’
  • Instead of ‘Mrs. Smith’ or ‘Miss Smith,’ use ‘Susan Smith’ or ‘Smith’
In general, women and men should be treated in a parallel manner. Avoid using ‘man,’ ‘mankind,’ or ‘he’ to refer to people in general. Some writers use the ‘she/he’ construction, but this can become awkward in long sentences. To avoid this construction, try writing sentences using the plural: ‘Students should bring their books’ rather than ‘Every student should bring her or his book.’ If the singular cannot be avoided, pronouns should alternate between the feminine and the masculine. People should be referred to by their last names in second references, eliminating ‘Mr.’, ‘Mrs.’, ‘Miss’ or ‘Ms.’ Always refer to female St. Catherine students as "women."