DocuWare Design

A range of resources for designers, developers

Docy

Gendered Language

Estimated reading: 4 minutes 148 views

What is Genderless language?

Whether there is a need to write for an internal or external audience, it’s essential to write for and about other people in a compassionate, inclusive, and respectful way. Therefore, the DocuWare copy should be from a person-first perspective.

What is gender?

According to the World Health Organization, gender refers to the characteristics of women, men that are socially constructed. As a social construct, gender varies from society to society and can change over time.

Gender is hierarchical and produces inequalities that intersect with other social and economic inequalities.  Gender-based discrimination intersects with other factors of discrimination, such as ethnicity, socioeconomic status, disability, age, geographic location, gender identity and sexual orientation, among others. This is referred to as intersectionality. 

Most languages are gendered, meaning both objects and people are classified as either masculine or feminine. This is a shared issue around the globe. Women and non-binary people are usually secondary or even absent in gendered languages.

Designers should always consider the complexity of gendered language for different languages and examples of content design solutions that can be used in specific contexts like style guides, forms, messaging, and other types of digital communication.

Why does gender inclusivity matter?

As stated by the United Nations organization, following gender-inclusive language means speaking and writing in a way that does not discriminate against a particular sex, social gender, or gender identity and does not perpetuate gender stereotypes.

When readers see a gendered pronoun, they make assumptions about the gender of the person being described (Gastil, 1990; Moulton et al., 1978).

Guidelines

As a company and as a system (product) we communicate to users in the second person (you), and when we refer to other people, we use third person and keep our language gender neutral, including pronouns.

Development team should not assume that the accountant, tax expert, or other financial professional is a he.

Avoid unnecessarily gendered language

Neutral forms might not be always possible in other languages, but try to be as inclusive as possible when you can and write your way around it. 

There are other ways to be gender neutral and inclusive:

Yes

  • everyone
  • folks
  • team

No

  • men
  • women
  • guys

Use the plural to avoid gendered language

Many languages lack gender-inclusive options. If gender-neutral language isn’t possible, then choose the most understandable expression.

Yes

They/Them/Theirs

No
  • He/him/his

  • She/her/hers

Form Example
they
Content
them
Content
their
Content
theirs
Content
themselves (themself)
Content

DocuWare is not a gender-specific product and can be used by a variety of users. Therefore, we must avoid gender-specific pronouns and instead use the “you” or plural form to address our users.

No

“{0}” cannot be matched to any existing user.

Yes

“{0}” cannot be matched to existing users.

Replace possessive pronouns with articles

No

His job

Yes

The job

CONTENTS
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