on language use and visualizations
"Gendering makes texts difficult to understand and destroys language!" is sometimes heard.
But language is constantly changing: In the Middle Ages, for example, everything was written in small letters! All these small and big letters are really a challenge, aren't they?1 [more arguments and counter-arguments in German]
Also: Language is one of our most important means of expressing and communicating ourselves. On the one hand it reflects our perception of our environment (people, facts, injustices etc.), on the other hand language influences the way we think and perceive our environment.
For us as an AntiBias organization, this means that we also reflect on our use of language and critically examine the way we communicate. After all, we have set ourselves the goal of providing a work and study environment shaped with the aim of equal opportunities where the diversity of our students and staff is valued as a key principle of our cooperation. Since gender-sensitive language attempts to establish linguistic forms that represent and appeal to all people, it is therefore a suitable means of achieving our goals.
1 Evangeline Adler-Klausner / Daniela Jauk / Stefanie Mayer / Elli Scambor (2016): gleichBERECHTIGTE WISSENSCHAFT fundiert argumentieren für GENDER STUDIES. Herausgeberin: Koordinationsstelle für Geschlechterstudien und Gleichstellung, Universität Graz, für die GENDERPLATTFORM
Besides the guidelines for instructors (German, English, PDF, University of Graz) and the guidelines for students (German, English, PDF, University of Graz) suggestions and examples for a sensitive use of language from other HEIs can be found here. We also advise to take a look at the APA suggestions for a bias-free language (English).
Gender-sensitive language is certainly unusual at first because the German language works in a very binary way. For this reason, there are suggestions for people just starting to learn it, and additional suggestions from expert discussions in Gender Studies.
Make obstacles clear! The visualisation of different gender identities is currently expressed mainly by the use of a star (*), underline (_) or colon (:). We recommend the following addition when using such a sign: To make various gender identities visible, the gender star [an underline/colon] is used in the following text. We are aware that this can make it difficult to read for people with visual impairments or those who see this for the first time.