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2.2 Asymmetrical Gender Marking

Another type of gender marking is also widely spread when talking about occupations: adding male or female as well as lady or gentlemen and other similar pairings to gender-neutral words. This practice of gender specification is very visible in the field of sports. However, in most cases, it is used asymmetrically. Overt gender marking is much more common for women's participation in sport, both in terms of the sport itself (women's football) and the athletes participating (woman golfer). We do not see comparable gender marking tendencies in the use of the word men.

This tendency goes beyond sports. For example, female or women writers are often talked about, but when in 1991 Valerie Babb, the assistant professor of English at Georgetown University, named her course "White Male Writers”, it drew significant attention from students, other professors, and as a consequence, from the media.

Expressions such as female doctor or male nanny only emphasize an already existing stereotype and should not be used. In general, gender marking should be avoided, when talking about other people. The few justifiable cases would be those of symmetrical gender marking and/or when a person's gender is relevant for the content.


Some firms are paying female junior developers more than male ones.

Did you watch the men's football worldcup?