Gender Neutral Language

Bench & Bar Kentucky, Vol. 66, No. 3, May 2002

2 Pages Posted: 20 Jun 2006

See all articles by Richard A. Bales

Richard A. Bales

Ohio Northern University - Pettit College of Law


Gender neutral language has become both accepted and expected. As a result, gendered language sounds parochial and out-of-date. It also risks offending readers of both sexes. This is particularly true when the language is based on stereotypical assumptions about occupations, as when the language infers that all lawyers are men or that all teachers are women.

Gendered language usually comes in one of three forms: (1) the addition of a feminine suffix to an occupation to distinguish female workers ("waitress"), (2) the use of gender-specific nouns ("mankind"), and (3) the use of gendered pronouns ("A doctor should not make his patients wait."). For each form of gendered language, the essay provides examples as well as suggested alternatives.

Keywords: gender, sex, neutral, language, legal writing

JEL Classification: K00

Suggested Citation

Bales, Richard A., Gender Neutral Language. Bench & Bar Kentucky, Vol. 66, No. 3, May 2002. Available at SSRN:

Richard A. Bales (Contact Author)

Ohio Northern University - Pettit College of Law ( email )

525 South Main Street
Ada, OH 45810
United States
419-772-2205 (Phone)


Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics