Four Dimensions of Criticism Against Gender-Fair Language

Vår senaste artikel har nyligen blivit publicerad i Sex Roles:

The gender-neutral third-person pronoun singular hen was recently introduced in Swedish as a complement to she (hon) and he (han). The initiative to add hen initially received strong criticism. In the present study, we analyzed 208 arguments from 168 participants with critical attitudes toward hen. We used Blaubergs’ (1980) and Parks and Roberton’s (1998) taxonomies of critical arguments against past gender-fair language reforms in English in the 1970s and 1990s as a basis for coding the arguments. A majority of arguments (80.7%) could be coded into existing categories, indicating that criticisms of gender-fair language initiatives are similar across different times and cultural contexts. Two categories of arguments did not fit existing categories (19.3%): gender-neutral pronouns are distracting in communication and gender information is important in communication. Furthermore, we established four overarching dimensions that capture assumptions and beliefs underlying gender-fair language criticism: (a) Defending the Linguistic Status Quo (39.4%), (b) Sexism and Cisgenderism (27.4%), (c) Diminishing the Issue and Its Proponents (26.9%), and (d) Distractor In Communication (6.3%). These dimensions of criticisms should be considered and addressed in different ways when implementing gender-fair language.

The (Not So) Changing Man: Dynamic Gender Stereotypes in Sweden

Vår senaste forskningsartikel med titeln The (Not So) Changing Man: Dynamic Gender Stereotypes in Sweden har precis publicerats i tidskriften Frontiers in Psychology.

Abstract. According to Social Role Theory, gender stereotypes are dynamic constructs influenced by actual and perceived changes in what roles women and men occupy (Wood and Eagly, 2011). Sweden is ranked as one of the most egalitarian countries in the world, with a strong national equality discourse and a relatively high number of men engaging in traditionally communal roles such as parenting and domestic tasks. This would imply a perceived change toward higher communion among men. Therefore, we investigated the dynamics of gender stereotype content in Sweden with a primary interest in the male stereotype and perceptions of gender equality. In Study 1, participants (N = 323) estimated descriptive stereotype content of women and men in Sweden in the past, present, or future. They also estimated gender distribution in occupations and domestic roles for each time-point. Results showed that the female stereotype increased in agentic traits from the past to the present, whereas the male stereotype showed no change in either agentic or communal traits. Furthermore, participants estimated no change in gender stereotypes for the future, and they overestimated how often women and men occupy gender non-traditional roles at present. In Study 2, we controlled for participants’ actual knowledge about role change by either describing women’s increased responsibilities on the job market, or men’s increased responsibility at home (or provided no description). Participants (N = 648) were randomized to the three different conditions. Overall, women were perceived to increase in agentic traits, and this change was mediated by perceptions of social role occupation. Men where not perceived to increase in communion but decreased in agency when change focused on women’s increased participation in the labor market. These results indicate that role change among women also influence perceptions of the male stereotype. Altogether, the results indicate that social roles might have stronger influence on perceptions of agency than perceptions of communion, and that communion could be harder to incorporate in the male stereotype.

Reducing a Male Bias in Language?

Vår senaste forskningsartikel med titeln Reducing a Male Bias in Language? Establishing the Efficiency of Three Different Gender-Fair Language Strategies har precis publicerats i tidskriften Sex Roles. Ladda ner artikeln som pdf här.

Abstract. Different strategies of gender-fair language have been applied to reduce a male bias, which means the implicit belief that a word describing an undefined person describes a man. This male bias might be caused by the words themselves in terms of generic masculine or masculine forms or by androcentrism (the conflation of men with humanity). In two experiments, we tested how different gender-fair strategies used as labels of an unknown social target (an applicant in a recruitment situation) could eliminate the male bias. The three types of gender-fair strategies tested were: (a) paired forms (he/she), (b) traditional neutral words (e.g., singular they, “the applicant”), or (c) gender-neutral third-person pronouns actively created to challenge the binary gender system (ze, Swedish hen). The two experiments were performed in Swedish with 417 undergraduates in Sweden and in English with 411 U.S. participants recruited online. In Swedish, the third-person gender-neutral pronoun singular (hen) was used. In English, several forms of such gender-neutral pronouns have been suggested (e.g., ze). In both experiments, results indicated that paired forms and actively created gender-neutral pronouns eliminated the male bias, whereas traditional neutral words contained a male bias. Thus, gender-fair language strategies should avoid using traditional words. Consequences of using paired forms and creating new gender-neutral words are discussed. We argue that an actively created gender-neutral pronoun is of highest value because it is more inclusive.

Vem tycker om hen?

I dagarna kom ett nytt nummer av tidskriften Språk och Stil ut, där vi finns representerade med artikeln ”Vem är hen?” Ladda ner artikeln som pdf.

Abstract. Swedish is the first language that has a gender-neutral third-person singular pronoun, hen, that has spread from transgender and queer communities to the broader society and now exists in parallel with the two traditional gendered pronouns representing ‘she’ and ‘he’. Many strong emotions have arisen during this process, both for and against hen. This study aims at analyzing what background factors may explain the attitudes towards hen. In total, 240 individuals participated in our online questionnaire where they indicated their attitude towards hen, as well as responded to questions assessing attitudes towards sexist language (i.e. gender discriminating language), modern sexism (i.e. the belief that gender-discrimination is no longer an issue), political views (from left to right), interest in gender issues and their identification with their own gender identity. The results show no gender difference in attitudes towards hen, but participants strongly identifying themselves with their gender identity had a tendency to be more negative towards the word. Political view was not a significant predictor. However, participants with sexist attitudes had a tendency to dislike hen, whereas those who were interested in gender issues and were negative towards sexist language had a tendency to like the word. Finally, younger age implied a stronger tendency to like hen.