Wikipedia:Use feminine pronouns

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In Western culture, women tend to be "airbrushed" out of the picture, especially when professional disciplines are involved. (Pictured: a group of male surgeons dissecting a corpse.)

For centuries, Western English writing has tended to use masculine pronouns to refer to abstract persons. If the writing is about professions or leadership positions, the use of masculine pronouns becomes even more pervasive. Doctors, lawyers, professors, dentists, CEOs, conductors and computer engineers are uniformly referred to using he and his.

Typical printed passages in books and magazines might read: "When a surgeon is preparing for his patient, he meets with a consulting physician to seek his views..." In a music context, we often read "When a record producer is getting ready for a session, he typically meets with the head sound engineer to get his ideas about the mix..." In a movie context, we often read "When a film director is about to shoot a movie, he confers with the cinematographer to get his perspectives on the lighting conditions..."

Interestingly, if examples are describing hypothetical professionals who work in men-dominated fields with other individuals who are seen as holding women-dominated occupations, then we may see some feminine pronouns get used: "When a Chief Executive Officer needs to speak with his administrative assistant, he calls her on the Intercom..." or "When a surgeon needs a scalpel, he motions to the nurse so that she can pass him the implement..." or "When a Dean has made a decision about which professors he will interview, he typically informs the receptionist by e-mail so that she can schedule the meetings..."

Be bold![edit]

Writing for Wikipedia, we don't have to follow these sexist traditions. We can boldly use feminine pronouns to refer to abstract persons. We can let women flourish in every domain!

Alternating between generic he and she[edit]

An example from Ruth Bader Ginsburg in Taylor v. Sturgell, 2008:

A nonparty is bound by a judgment if she "assume(d) control" over the litigation in which that judgment was rendered. ... Because such a person has had "the opportunity to present proofs and arguments," he has already "had his day in court" even though he was not a formal party to the litigation.[1]

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See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Taylor v. Sturgell, 12 June 2008.