language equity

Tue Nov 26 11:31:31 EST 1996

>To:            womenbio at
>From:          ravena at (Karen Allendoerfer)
>Subject:       Re: language equity
>Date:          Tue, 26 Nov 1996 07:57:38 -0800
>In article <ebrown-2311962242340001 at>,
>ebrown at (Ellie Brown) wrote:
>> Last week I attended a joint meeting of AWIS (Association for Women in
>> Science) and SWE (Society for Women Engineers) where the discussion topic
>> was Gender Equity in the Classroom.  One thread involved the perceived
>> meaning of words such as "mankind" or the generic pronoun "he".  The women
>> in this group were generally between 30 and 60 years old, and almost all
>> said that they had always felt included by these terms. 
>Really?  I never felt included by these terms.

This is a bit heavy, but I have to admit I never felt excluded by those terms, until I 
was having a conversation with a friend in psychology working on women's issues about 
adolecent dreams and realized that as a teenager, in many of my dreams in which I was 
powerful, I saw myself as genderless.  But in "regular dreams" I was female.  I had no 
cultural conditioning for a powerful woman (and considering how advanced my mother and 
her career were and are, I have to blame it on the greater culture and not my 
upbringing).  So I go out of my way (yeah-I still say "guys" informally) to fix this.  
When a fellow grad students says "A PI should run his lab such and such a way"  I add 
"or HER lab" and get looked at like I have 3 heads!  But because many people 
unconciously don't think of female when we say "he"-even if we don't mean "he" to be 
exclusive, I think we need to say "she" often as well.  I think it jars precisely 
because we're not accustomed to it.
Julia Frugoli
Dartmouth College

visiting grad student at
Texas A&M University
Department of Biological Sciences
College Station, TX 77843
FAX 409-847-8805

"Evil is best defined as militant ignorance."
																										Dr. M. Scott Peck

More information about the Womenbio mailing list