While we experience differences in socially constructed gender roles every day, shouldn’t we be bothered by what words people use too? Can language go unchallenged while we try to stop inequality from lurking around us?
Gendered language isn’t difficult to spot, but can be easily overlooked. Words like ‘mankind’, ‘manpower’, ‘man-made’ are widely accepted as gender-neutral terms, but they tend to exclude women or make them rather invisible.
Realising that gender-neutral terminology was missing in a lot of languages we use every day, Neera Narang devised a new course for the students of Delhi University. In this course, students will be taught how to identify sexist terminology in language.
It will be introduced for M.Ed students of the university from this academic session.
The basic structure of the course includes identifying gender differences in language as well as during casual conversations. The students will also study about the use of sexist and non-sexist language. For instance, words like ‘bossy’, ‘aggressive’ or ‘nagging’ are subtly sexist words and often used to criticise women or girls.
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“Our purpose is to look for a vocabulary where gender-bias can be removed with the usage of pronouns,” Neera told the Daily Mail.
According to the dean of the department, N Ranganathan, this course will be fundamentally very non-restrictive. The two-year M.Ed programme has been renewed and 27 such specialisations are being offered at the department of education. The student can pick whichever one they want.
The course has been approved by the academic and executive councils of DU and will have four units talking about the “role of language in culture, identity, gender and media,” as reported by the Daily Mail.