On Universities’ Special Obligations to Combat Sexism

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New Mexico State University President’s Commission on the Status of Women has developed a draft “Gender-Neutral Language Policy” (available here) for the University.   The Commission explains that their policy is grounded in the belief that institutions have a special responsibility for leadership in efforts against sexism:  

Therefore, the university should seek to transform the behavior and attitudes that legitimize and perpetuate the normal and social exclusion of women. A heightened awareness of gender-neutral language needs to become evident in universities and institutional training programs. As well, our university may aid in promoting academic excellence by ensuring that university policies, programs, services and activities reflect the experiences and perspectives of the whole society the university serves.

Lots of universities would do well to follow New Mexico State’s lead.   Proponents of gender-neutral language at UNC, for example, are fighting against cultural, administrative and historic tides. UNC lists only two women among its “Famous Alumni.”   C’mon UNC, you can do better than that.   Start now by adopting a gender-neutral language policy.

-Bridget Crawford

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