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πŸ˜’ Biased language

This is a tricky one. Of words in this category, we often don't believe that they are in any way non-inclusive. But, due to our unconscious biases and our socialisation, these words and word combinations are unconsciously harming and/or based on outdated, unconscious stereotypes. Often, we don't even notice.  

What does Witty highlight in the category "Biased language"?

The use of these terms has two consequences:

  • Certain people do not feel addressed by the text because they are unconsciously put off by it due to their own socialization or values and therefore do not feel they belong.
  • The words put people in a pigeonhole. If society continues to use them, people are stigmatized and those affected remain trapped in them. This prevents them from developing freely.

πŸ˜’ Doesn’t feel cooperative nor supportive

Unconsciously attributed to the male stereotype. Many do not feel attracted by these terms. 

What can you do?
Use team-oriented wording or referring to purpose.

πŸ˜’ Expresses power-imbalance

Can seem arrogant or incomprehensible since wording can be associated with a power imbalance and/or noticeable difference in social class. 

What can you do?
Rephrase with a choice of words that's on eye-level.

πŸ˜’ Expressing belief; not true for all

Wording pigeonholing people of a certain belief or unconsciously expressing one belief as the standard; thereby devaluing other beliefs. 

What can you do?
Rephrase with words that do not transport any idea of belief or religion.

πŸ˜’ Hidden bias regarding age below 25

Outdated hidden or even discriminatory wording pigeonholing people 25 years or younger. 

What can you do?
Ask yourself "What would I write if this person was 45 years old?"

πŸ˜’ Hidden bias regarding age over 50

Outdated hidden or even discriminatory wording pigeonholing people 50 years or older. 

What can you do?
Ask yourself "What would I write if this person was 35 years old?"

πŸ˜’ Hidden bias regarding behavior

Outdated, hidden or even discriminatory wording pigeonholing people with a mental impairment. 

What can you do?
Ask yourself "What would I write if this person was mentally fully healthy?"

πŸ˜’ Hidden bias regarding cognitive ability

Outdated, hidden or even discriminatory wording pigeonholing people with differences in cognitive ability. 

What can you do?
Ask yourself "What would I write if this person had their full mental capacity?"

πŸ˜’ Hidden bias regarding cultural background

Is a sweeping generalisation and traps people in outdated stereotypes. 

What can you do?
Ask yourself "What would I write if this person was of the dominant national background?"

πŸ˜’ Hidden bias regarding disabilities

Communicates exclusion by stating that a person's abilities are outside of an assumed definition of "normal". 

What can you do?
Rephrase in a way that talks about the person's ability without implying otherness or disability.

πŸ˜’ Hidden bias regarding gender identity

Outdated and perhaps even discriminatory understanding of gender that pigeonholes LGBTQIA+ people. 

What can you do?
Ask yourself "What would I write if this person was female or male?"

πŸ˜’ Hidden bias regarding hearing ability

Outdated, hidden or even discriminatory wording pigeonholing people with hearing or speech impairment. 

What can you do?
Ask yourself "What would I write if this person had their full hearing and speech capacity?"

πŸ˜’ Hidden bias regarding medical state

Outdated, hidden or even discriminatory wording pigeonholing people with a medical condition. 

What can you do?
Ask yourself "What would I write if this person was fully healthy?"

πŸ˜’ Hidden bias regarding migration background

Difficult to understand for people with a migration background, as they may not understand certain idioms or bureaucratic language. Or it is a sweeping generalisation and traps people in outdated stereotypes. Rephrase with a simpler choice of words and short sentence. 

What can you do?
Ask yourself "What would I write if this person was of the dominant national background?"

πŸ˜’ Hidden bias regarding mobility

Outdated, hidden or even discriminatory wording pigeonholing people with a mobility impairment. 

What can you do?
Ask yourself "What would I write if this person was in full capacity of all their limbs?"

πŸ˜’ Hidden bias regarding sexual orientation

Outdated and perhaps even discriminatory understanding of sexual orientation that pigeonholes LGBTQIA+ people and transporting heterosexuality as the norm. 

What can you do?
Ask yourself "What would I write if this person was heterosexual?"

πŸ˜’ Hidden bias regarding skin color

Outdated and perhaps even discriminatory pigeonholing a particular ethnic background. 

What can you do?
Ask yourself "What would I write if this person belonged to the dominant ethnic background in my society?"

πŸ˜’ Hidden bias regarding vision ability

Outdated, hidden or even discriminatory wording pigeonholing people with visual impairment. 

What can you do?
Ask yourself "What would I write if this person had full visibility?"

πŸ€” Sure you need to ask for age?

Asking for people's age puts them in a sensible spot and may provoke stereotype threat. 

What can you do?
Maybe you do not need to know their age?