Languages differ in how grammatically salient gender is. We explored if grammatically gender-neutral pronouns in Finnish and Turkish, two grammatically genderless languages, are gender neutral or male biased, thereby activating male, rather than female, exemplars. We also tested whether differences in national level gender equality influence the male bias. Results indicated a male bias in both languages, whereas national level gender equality had no influence. Implications for gender-fair language reforms in grammatically genderless languages are discussed.
The Swedish gender-inclusive pronoun hen can be used generically (referring to anyone), or specifically (referring to non-binary gender identities). Three studies tested evaluations and use of hen, and individual-level predictors. In Study 1 (N = 2145), specific hen was slightly favoured over generic hen. In Study 2 (N = 297), hen was more negatively evaluated than binary pronouns, and generic hen was more positively evaluated than specific hen. In Study 3 (N = 450), hen was less frequently used compared to binary pronouns overall but preferred in generic contexts. Traditionalism mainly predicted attitudes towards generic hen and beliefs about gender, as binary mainly predicted attitudes towards specific hen, although the pattern varied across studies. Because hen was preferred in generic contexts, but not in specific ones, this work has implications for understanding the non-acceptance of non-binary gender identities since the traditional binary notion of gender still is strong.
Gender-fair language planning aims to increase linguistic inclusion of underrepresented groups, for example by using paired pronouns (he/she) instead of generic masculine forms (he). However, using paired binary forms might evoke a normative gender bias where words lead to stronger associations to individuals with normative gender expressions than to individuals with non-normative gender expressions. In two online experiments in a simulated recruitment context, we compared the extent that the paired pronouns he/she (Swedish and English), the neo-pronouns ‘hen’ (Swedish) and ‘ze’ (English), and singular they (English), evoked a normative gender bias for Swedish- (N = 227 and 268) and English- (N = 600) speaking participants. The results showed that the paired pronouns he/she evoked a normative gender bias, whereas Swedish hen did not. In contrast to ‘hen’, ‘ze’ and singular they did evoke a normative gender bias. However, among participants familiar with ‘ze’ as a non-binary pronoun, it seemed to reduce a normative gender bias, while familiarity had no effect regarding singular they. These results suggest that neo-pronouns, but not paired pronouns, have the potential to reduce a normative gender bias, but that they should be actively created new words, and well-known to the language users as non-binary pronouns.
Den 8 oktober disputerade Hellen Vergoossen i psykologi vid Stockholms universitet, med avhandlingen Breaking the Binary: Attitudes towards and cognitive effects of gender-neutral pronouns. Det är första gången någon av doktoranderna i vårt projekt disputerar. Grattis Hellen!
Hur påverkas binära könsnormer av språk? I detta Academic Pride-seminarium utforskade doktorand Amanda Klysing och doktorand Elli van Berlekom uppfattningar av inkluderande språk och hur det nya personliga pronomenet ”hen” har påverkat svenskspråkigas förståelse av kön.
Slides från deras presentation finns att ladda ner här.
The current research addresses gender trouble (acts that question the naturalness of a binary gender system) in two parts of the recruitment situation: applicant attraction and evaluation. Experiment 1 (N = 1,147) investigated how different Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) statements in an organization description influenced organizational evaluations. The EEO statements emphasized gender as binary (women and men), gender as diverse (multi-gender), or gender as irrelevant (de-gender; compared with no EEO statement). Gender minority participants experienced decreased identity threat in response to the multi-gendered and the de-gendered EEO statements, which increased organizational attractivity. There was no significant effect of EEO statement for gender majority participants. Multi-gendered and de-gendered EEO statements increased perceived gender diversity within the organization. Experiment 2 (N = 214) investigated how applicants with a normative or non-normative gender expression were evaluated by HR-specialists. Applicants with a non-normative gender expression were rated as more suitable for the position and recommended a higher starting salary than applicants with a normative gender expression. Women with a non-normative gender expression were rated as more likely to be employed than men with a non-normative gender expression, while women applicants regardless of gender expression were rated as the most likely to acquire the position. This research indicates that gender minorities can be explicitly included in EEO statements without negative impact on gender majority groups and with a positive impact on gender minority groups. Furthermore, a non-normative gender expression was not found to be a cause for biased evaluations in an initial recruitment situation.