Sexist: Writers become so involved in their work that they neglect their wives and children.
Alternative: Writers become so involved in their work that they neglect their families.
Sexist: Sally’s husband lets her teach part-time.
Alternative: Sally teaches part-time.
Sexist: the elementary teacher…she
Alternative: elementary teachers…they
Sexist: the principal…he
Sexist: Have your mother send cookies for the field trip.
Alternative: Have your parents send cookies for the field trip.
Sexist: While lunch was delayed, the ladies chattered about last night’s meeting.
Alternative: While lunch was delayed, the women talked about last night’s meeting.
Sexist language in a direct quotation cannot be altered, but alternatives should be considered:
(1) Avoid the quotation altogether if it is not really necessary.
(2) Paraphrase the quotation, giving the original author credit for the idea.
(3) If the quotation is fairly short, recast as an indirect quotation, eliminating the sexist language.
A whole lot more information is included in the guidelines. These examples should give you a good idea of the intent of the guidelines and how nonsexist language can be achieved. The best alternative for me is to stay in the plural when I find myself mixing the singular with plural references. I once wrote a whole 500 + page book in the plural and I was astonished at how smoothly it read. RayS.
Title: “For the Members.” Prepared by Headquarters Staff of NCTE. English Journal (March 1976), pp. 23-26.