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Let’s talk about Language and Gender

The world appears to be moving through yet another difficult yet necessary moment – challenging misogyny, sexism and the rights of 52% of the population – women. To the 52% of us who are women this is a time that we welcome and have been waiting for, slowly chipping away at it over many, many generations. To the men, at least some of the men, this is coming as a huge surprise. Our own parliament is currently grappling with this very issue on multiple fronts.

After the murder of Sarah Everard in the UK women are taking to twitter, Instagram, Facebook and just about every other platform to share their strategies of how to keep yourself safe as a woman in this world. Sad. Powerful. Shocking.

What we need to understand as teachers, parents and people is that language, our use, acceptance and tolerance of is a starting place for both the good and the bad aspects of our culture, our world. Language is powerful. Language builds people up. Language destroys. Language is the starting place for change.

Teachers, we work hard. Really hard for change that we don’t always see. Our work matters. We matter. Small changes lead to big shifts. Let’s start small.

Years ago, we reframed much of our in-school language to be more positive in structure for all things learning. A few examples:

instead of “Sit down and stop fidgeting”

we moved to “You look like you are ready to learn!”

or even,

instead of “Is that your best, really?”

we moved to “You have really put in some effort on this”

In the same way, we can reframe our language to make small changes in the way we address gender in our schools. The changes are small and we know that one small change in every classroom, leads to a million small changes in schools and hopefully in our society. These are just a few suggestions to get the thinking ball rolling.

Can we try to…

Move from To
Teacher to Student Morning Guys Morning Peeps
Teacher to Student Man Up What’s the challenge for you here?
Teacher to Student Toughen up What are you finding hard about this?
Student to Student You’re just a girl/boy That’s true and I can do it
Student to Student You sound /scream like a girl/boy Yeah, no. I scream/sound like me


It doesn’t sound like much, but if we all do it we can make a difference. A drop in the ocean.

Warm regards,