Understanding the Constraints on Women’s Career Decisions

Amanda, Hellen and Marie have been to the conference Context, Identity and Choice: Understanding the Constraints on Women’s Career Decisions in London to present our research about hen
Hellen presented the study Gender-neutral pronouns as promoters of gender equality in the work place.

Abstract: The gender-neutral pronoun ‘hen’, has been introduced in Swedish as an addition to the gendered pronouns ‘hon’ [she] and ‘han’ [he]. It can be used in a generic way to refer to someone when not knowing a person’s gender, when gender is irrelevant, or to refer to someone who does not identify with the binary categories. 

Proponents of ‘hen’ have argued that the pronoun can reduce stereotyping in language. In previous research, ‘hen’ has been found to have no male bias when people try to determine whose job application they are reading. Reading a job application from ‘hen’, participants judged the person to be equally likely to be female or male in comparison with “the applicant” or “the candidate”, which were much more frequently imagined to be male (Bäck et al., 2015). 

In this presentation, I present the first eye tracking data on how ‘hen’ affects the way we imagine others when reading about them, and discuss the implications this has for understanding how gender-neutral language may work as a gender-fair language strategy. 

Amanda presented the study The (not so) Changing Man: Dynamic Gender Stereotypes in Sweden. Download the poster as pdf here.