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Linguistics and Gender Bias

Linguistics is one of the methods society uses to promote gender bias--a socialization process that starts in the classroom. Both children and teachers perpetuate the myth of female subordination by neglecting to use gender neutral terminology. Teachers inflict further damage by giving preferential treatment to male students. Children reared in an environment where gender roles are stratified incur the danger of perpetuating a system of "virulent sexism" in which boys grow up "deeply suspicious of feminists" (Britzman, 1993, p. 36).

The issue of gender equity is a relatively recent concern in the field of education. The legal foundation of this concern was the Title IX of the Education Amendment Act, passed in 1972. This Act prohibited sex discrimination in federally-funded education programs and activities. Although the legislation has successfully addressed blatant acts of gender discrimination, only limited progress has been made in eliminating the repressive attitudes that lead to gender bias. Gender bias, defined as "the underlying network of assumptions and beliefs held by a person that males and females differ in systematic ways other than physically," is pervasive in American education (Streitmatter, 1994, p. 2). Teachers unwittingly perpetuate gender bias when they refuse to actively participate in achieving gender equity as a goal in their classrooms. The elimination of gender bias requires sensitivity to the ways in which the use of language encourages gender stereotypes.

Language in the classroom reflects the gender mores of society as a whole. The English language is biased in favor of men: "Words deigning behavior as rational, brave, sensible, or intelligent are associated with masculinity, while 'feminine' words are temperamental, emotional, inconsistent, or illogical" (Duberman, 1975, p. 72). Even generic terms such as "mankind" or "man-hour" send a message to females that the world is defined in term...

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Linguistics and Gender Bias. (1969, December 31). In LotsofEssays.com. Retrieved 23:54, August 07, 2020, from https://www.lotsofessays.com/viewpaper/1681329.html