University's Writing Guide Discourages Use of the Word 'Man'

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill distributed a "gender-inclusive language" writing guide to students that advises against using words with "man" in them.

Words such as "policeman," "freshman" and "chairman" are now discouraged. Instead, the guide recommends using "police officer," "first-year student" and "chairperson," respectively.

The guide also asks students to ask themselves the following questions before submitting written work: Have you used “man” or “men” or words containing them to refer to people who may not be men? Have you used “he,” “him,” “his,” or “himself” to refer to people who may not be men? If you have mentioned someone’s sex or gender, was it necessary to do so? Do you use any occupational (or other) stereotypes? Do you provide the same kinds of information and descriptions when writing about people of different genders?

"English has changed since the Declaration of Independence was written," the guide says. "Most readers no longer understand the word 'man' to be synonymous with 'person,' so clear communication requires writers to be more precise."

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