The Power of Inclusive Language: The Broadsheet

August 6, 2019, 9:54 AM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Rep. Veronica Escobar talks about El Paso, pregnancy discrimination allegations go viral at Google, and a new study digs into what happens when we use gender-neutral language. Have a lovely Tuesday. 


- The power of inclusive language. There's been a movement in some progressive corners in recent years to adopt more gender-neutral language—whether it's Target's elimination of 'boys' and 'girls' kids' lines, the option of X (rather than M or F) on Oregon's driver's licenses, or Berkeley, California's new 'maintenance holes' (versus 'manholes'). A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that these tiny tweaks have the potential to make a big difference. 

Researchers from Washington University in St. Louis and UCLA conducted a study of gender-neutral language in Sweden, where in 2015 "hen" was introduced as an alternative to "hon" and "han," or "she" and "he." They found that participants who were asked to use the gender-neutral hen pronoun to describe an androgynous figure appeared afterwards to have more positive feelings toward LGBT people and less of a mental preference for men than those who were asked to use only female or male pronouns. "This shift is associated with people expressing less bias in favor of traditional gender roles and categories," the study says

The elimination of gendered pronouns—and gendered words in general—can be challenging for a society built around them; interestingly, it is an issue limited to only some languages—English, German, Spanish and French among them. But the study suggests, as Sabine Sczesny of the University of Bern told The Guardian, that gender-inclusive language can “contribute to the promotion of gender and LGBT equality and tolerance." 

Claire Zillman

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- A different kind of Google memo. A new internal memo that's gone viral at Google describes a pattern of pregnancy discrimination and retaliation inside the tech giant. The memo's author alleges that she faced retaliation after reporting her boss's discriminatory remarks about pregnant women to HR—only to be transferred to another team where her new manager implied she should ignore her doctor's order to go on bedrest. Google says the company prohibits retaliation. Vice

- Creators' chat. Some of the top women working in Hollywood tell Fortune about what it's like to be part of the current era of television, where female creators are no longer a rarity. One example: "The response to Russian Doll has been overwhelming because there are things I've finally been able to explore that I wasn't allowed to do for a long time," says co-creator Leslye Headland. Fortune

- Ivanka beyond 2020. Along with a new Ivanka Trump podcast, The Cut's Vanessa Grigoriadis writes about the first daughter's long-term future post-presidency. A return to New York, despite the social slights? A move to Israel? A run for office in Florida? The speculation continues. The Cut

- Representing El Paso. One of the leading voices after the mass shooting in El Paso is Rep. Veronica Escobar, the first-term congresswoman whose district includes the city. In this interview, Escobar describes what the day of the tragedy was like, speaking out against President Trump, and calling for change with a strongly pro-gun governor in charge in Texas. The New Yorker

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Bank of America hired Evercore's Amy Lissauer as global head of mergers & acquisitions activist and raid defense advisory. Michal Katz, one of the most senior female investment bankers at Royal Bank of Canada, is reportedly joining Mizuho Americas later this year to head its banking division. JLL named GE's Cynthia Kantor chief product officer, corporate solutions. 


- Ardern's abortion promise. One of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's campaign promises in New Zealand was to decriminalize abortion; right now, New Zealanders must—with the approval of two doctors—claim that their pregnancy would harm their physical or mental health in order to access abortion. A new proposal from the government would eliminate those requirements before 20 weeks of pregnancy. New York Times

- 1-800-TIMESUP. While Time's Up is partnering with the U.S. Women's National Team to fight for equal pay, Time's Up U.K. is partnering with Emma Watson. The actress is promoting a new helpline people can call for legal advice when they're experiencing sexual harassment at work. Guardian

- Hong Kong status. Unrest in Hong Kong grew this week with protests timed to interfere with the financial hub's workday and renewed calls for Carrie Lam to resign as chief executive. "I don’t think at this point in time the resignation of myself or my colleagues will provide a better solution," she said in her first comments in two weeks. Protests started in June. Wall Street Journal

- A new model. Victoria's Secret got into trouble last year after parent company CMO Ed Razek said the lingerie chain should not include "transsexuals" in its show because it has to maintain its "fantasy." Now the brand—under fire for more than just those comments—has hired model Valentina Sampaio for a campaign for PINK, making her its first transgender model. Interestingly, parent company L Brands also just announced Razek's retirement. Fortune 

Today's Broadsheet was produced by Emma Hinchliffe. Share it with a friend. Looking for previous Broadsheets? Click here.


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