Gender Neutral Collective Nouns
In French, we use collective nouns and greetings that distinguish members of the group in a gender based way. This could be as simple as addressing a group of people as “Mesdames et Messieurs” or “étudiants/étudiantes”. We’re all very familiar with these words and phrases, and use them on a daily basis when addressing classmates, work colleagues, friends and family. The problem is that these terms exclude those who do not identify strictly as a man or a woman, and also clutters up our speech, and writing with parentheses or repetition.
By using gender neutral alternatives, we can be more welcoming and inclusive to everyone, while streamlining our writing. For example, forms that ask for the names of the applicant’s “father” or “mother” are not inclusive to parents who do not identify with either of those words, as well as families composed of more than one father or mother. In this example, “parent” would be a more inclusive term. We can avoid gendered language in French in similar ways.
Below are a few examples of how to replace nouns to make them more inclusive:
Mesdames et Messieurs
Tout le monde
Étudiants et étudiantes
camarade de classe or communauté étudiante
Directeurs et directrices
Hommes et filles
gens, personnes or le monde
Équipiers et équipières
Spectateurs et spectatrices
To see more examples, click here