Gender Neutral Language

Bates strives to be an inclusive and respectful learning community. The Office of the Dean of the Faculty offers these best practices in the use of gendered pronouns.

While devices like “she and he” or “s/he” once seemed like the inclusive choice–as opposed to “he” as generic–we now recognize that they exclude people who do not use those gender-specifying pronouns.

Please avoid using gendered pronouns such as “he” or” she” in print or electronic academic materials ranging from syllabi to announcements and other material communicated by academic departments and programs and administrative offices.

The college community includes an increasing number of people who do not find themselves addressed in statements such as “each student should format his or her paper in MLA style.” We can recognize and include such individuals by avoiding gendered pronouns. For example, the above statement could be changed to “students should format their papers in MLA style.”

When referring to known individuals, you should use pronouns that the person in question uses for themselves. Use “they, them” pronouns as a singular when referring to unspecified people.  While you may find it uncomfortable or surprising to use “they” in the singular, it is an increasingly accepted practice. The Washington Post now uses “they” in the singular, for example.