Alternating Between Masculine and Feminine Pronouns: Does Essay Topic Affect Readers' Perceptions?

Alternating Between Masculine and Feminine Pronouns: Does Essay Topic Affect Readers' Perceptions? Authors are routinely advised to avoid using masculine pronouns to refer to both men and women. Some style guides recommend alternating between masculine and feminine pronouns instead. Unfortunately, previous research with gender-neutral text indicates that readers perceive alternating pronouns to be biased in favor of women. We tested readers' perceptions of alternating pronouns in an essay on a traditionally feminine topic, on a traditionally masculine topic, and on a gender-neutral topic. There were four versions of each essay. One version alternated between masculine and feminine pronouns, a second version used paired masculine and feminine pronouns throughout the passage (e.g., ‘he or she’), and the remaining two versions used exclusively masculine pronouns or feminine pronouns. Readers overestimated the frequency of feminine pronouns in alternating text except when they occurred in an essay on a traditionally feminine topic. Readers also thought alternating pronouns were gender-biased and low in overall quality. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Sex Roles Springer Journals

Alternating Between Masculine and Feminine Pronouns: Does Essay Topic Affect Readers' Perceptions?

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Publisher
Kluwer Academic Publishers-Plenum Publishers
Copyright
Copyright © 2006 by Springer Science + Business Media, Inc.
Subject
Psychology; Gender Studies; Sociology, general; Medicine/Public Health, general
ISSN
0360-0025
eISSN
1573-2762
D.O.I.
10.1007/s11199-006-9344-0
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Authors are routinely advised to avoid using masculine pronouns to refer to both men and women. Some style guides recommend alternating between masculine and feminine pronouns instead. Unfortunately, previous research with gender-neutral text indicates that readers perceive alternating pronouns to be biased in favor of women. We tested readers' perceptions of alternating pronouns in an essay on a traditionally feminine topic, on a traditionally masculine topic, and on a gender-neutral topic. There were four versions of each essay. One version alternated between masculine and feminine pronouns, a second version used paired masculine and feminine pronouns throughout the passage (e.g., ‘he or she’), and the remaining two versions used exclusively masculine pronouns or feminine pronouns. Readers overestimated the frequency of feminine pronouns in alternating text except when they occurred in an essay on a traditionally feminine topic. Readers also thought alternating pronouns were gender-biased and low in overall quality.

Journal

Sex RolesSpringer Journals

Published: Jan 1, 2006

References

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