Pronouns for ambiguous gender
I’m not a policeman for political correctness per se, but when there is solid research that certain word constructions can carry unintentioned harm to children / students, I will change my speech pattern. Here I’m referring to gender pronouns in teaching materials.
Despite being linguistically correct, we know that girls can be unconsciously discouraged about a topic where only male prototypes are presented and female pronouns are never used. Hearing, “an engineer … she,” in an example can have a significant impact on a girl’s self identification as a future engineer, even if the construction feels a little awkward to the engineering professor, at first.
My experience as a professor of physics has sensitized me to this issue as we try to encourage more women to choose STEM careers.
So I aim for gender balance in all my writing where gender is ambitious. This extends even in referring to homo sapiens as a class. I avoid the archaic use of “man” and choose words like “one” or “people” or “humans” etc. in such references.
With that long introduction, I would urge the author to consider small changes to pronoun choices in writing this textbook. Not that the current writing is objectional in any way, this is just a recommendation.
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