Gender-neutral language

Gender-neutral nouns

When reviewing and writing content, replace gendered nouns (such as "man" and words ending in "man") with gender-neutral language. Here is a list of gendered nouns and some alternatives to consider:

English nouns

Gendered noun
Gender-neutral noun


person, individual


people, human beings, humanity


first-year student


machine-made, synthetic, artificial

the common man

the average person


chair, chairperson, coordinator, head


mail carrier, letter carrier, postal worker


police officer

steward, stewardess

flight attendant

French nouns

Gendered noun
Gender-neutral noun

un étudiant, une étudiante

la communauté étudiante, les universitaires

un directeur, une directrice

la direction

le recteur, la rectrice

le rectorat

le professeur, la professeure

le corps professoral, le corps enseignant

un employé, une employée

le personnel

un Québécois, un Québécoise

la population québécoise

un chercheur, une chercheuse

les maîtres de recherche

Gender-neutral pronouns

Referring to people or groups of people of varying gender using masculine pronouns (he, his and him) as a default is no longer recommended. Here are a few alternative options to consider:

1. Replace gendered pronouns with gender-neutral nouns

The use of "he/she" and similar constructions may unintentionally exclude individuals who don't refer to themselves using either pronoun. Consider replacing those pronouns with a gender-neutral noun to ensure that your content is gender-inclusive.

Original sentence

He/she will be assigned to groups.

The candidate will be assigned to groups.

She/he will receive a notification email upon registration.

The registrant will receive a notification email upon registration.

2. Pluralize nouns and pronouns

If it works for your writing, use plural nouns and pronouns to remove the need for gendered language.

Original sentence

Each participant must make requests using his/her own email account.

Participants must make requests using their own email accounts.

A researcher can request internal peer review from the Associate Dean of his/her Faculty.

Researchers can request an internal peer review from the Associate Dean of their Faculty.

3. Use “they” as a singular pronoun

The pronoun “they” can also be used as a gender-neutral option for singular pronouns (e.g., “Can you ask them if they can email me the resource?”). Consider your audience carefully when determining whether this solution is appropriate.


Singular ‘They’. Retrieved April 23, 2020.

Gender-Inclusive Language. The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved July 25, 2019.

Publication manual of the American Psychological Association. 6th ed. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2010.

The Chicago Manual of Style. 17th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017.


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