The benefits and pitfalls of language change – The case of gender-fair language use

Formanowicz, Magdalena Maria; Sczesny, Sabine (2015). The benefits and pitfalls of language change – The case of gender-fair language use. In: SSP/SGP Conference 2015,14th congress of the Swiss Psychological Society. Geneva. 08.-09.09.2015.

Gender-fair language (GFL) is a symmetric linguistic treatment of women and men. To create GFL two principle strategies can be deployed. Neutralization means that gender-unmarked forms (police officer) are used to substitute the male-biased (policeman). Feminization, implies that feminine forms of nouns are used systematically to make female referents visible. The results of a comprehensive European research program provide evidence in support of a non-discrimination policy in language, yet identify the potential setbacks preventing linguistic reforms to be effective. In general, studies indicate positive effects of GFL. In an applied context, for example women feel more motivated to apply for the position if a job advertisement is formulated in a GFL. However, negative effects of reformed usage were also reported specifically when GFL is novel. For example, a woman referred to as a chairperson was evaluated lower in occupational status than a woman referred to as a chairman.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology > Social Neuroscience and Social Psychology

UniBE Contributor:

Formanowicz, Magdalena Maria, Sczesny, Sabine


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology




Magdalena Maria Formanowicz

Date Deposited:

30 Mar 2016 09:43

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:53


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