Head, Chair, Actor

 

Hull university has apparently issued guidance to students on the use of gender neutral language informing them that they they risk their work being down graded if they fail to adopt this approach. I was surprised students needed to be told. I would have though that long before arriving at university they would have appreciated the importance of language, that they would have noted that the person in charge of their school was referred to as the head teacher, that some one who appears in a play is called an actor and that the person running a meeting is refer to as the chair. Those who dismiss gender neutral language as political correctness fail to recognise the unconscious bias that language can reflect. An example of which is to be found in this often used training scenario. 
 
A father and son are involved in a serious car crash. Both are rushed to hospital for emergency treatment. They are wheeled into adjacent operating theatres. The on call surgeon arrives takes one look at the boy and says, " I can't operate on this patent he is my son". 
 
Asked to explain the surgeons claim many of those who have not heard this before come up with elaborate explanations ranging from adoption to sperm donation. Why do people miss the obvious explanations? This is an example of an unconscious bias.  
 
Blair McPherson www.blairmcpherson.co.uk 

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