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Eight ways to inspire inclusion of girls and women through your communications


Image of women celebrating and throwing confetti in the air, with the title superimposed

Inspire inclusion.

Wearing my "Inclusion Matters" sweatshirt

That’s the theme of the 2024 International Women’s Day, and I am here for it! My favorite sweatshirt says “Inclusion matters.”


The way we communicate can greatly influence the way women and girls are viewed and valued in society. Affirming women through communications is not just about using respectful terms, but also about challenging stereotypes and promoting gender equality.


Here are some language shifts you can make to inspire inclusion of women and girls:


1. Use inclusive language


Avoid using gender-specific terms when referring to roles or professions. Instead of saying "businessman," use "businessperson" or "entrepreneur." Stay away from diminishing language such as “ladies” or “girls.” Inclusive language helps challenge traditional gender norms and acknowledges the contributions of women in various fields.


2. Strive for equality in your language


Use women’s professional titles and model this behavior for those around you. Fast Company found that “Untitling happens repeatedly to women with professional titles, such as doctors, professors, clergy, government officials, military personnel, and coaches. Recent research of 321 speaker introductions found that when physicians introduced other physicians, female physicians almost always used their colleague's ‘doctor’ titles.



However, male physicians introduced other male physicians as ‘doctor’ in 72.4% of the cases, but only 49.2% of the time when introducing female physicians.” This is particularly critical when referring to women of color, who get even less respect than white women.

 

3. Avoid stereotypes


Be mindful of language that reinforces stereotypes about women. Avoid phrases like "you throw like a girl" or "man up," which imply that being female is inferior or weak. Instead, promote positive and empowering language that reflects the capabilities of all individuals, regardless of gender.




4. Highlight achievements


Use language that recognizes women’s accomplishments without diminishing their efforts. Avoid using terms like "lucky" or "fortunate" to describe their success, as this can undermine their hard work and talent. When you speak to girls, focus on their accomplishments rather than their appearance.


5.  Challenge bias


Be vigilant about challenging bias and discrimination in language. If you hear someone using sexist or derogatory language, speak up and educate them about the impact of their words. Encourage them to use more inclusive and respectful language.


6.  Celebrate diversity


Recognize and celebrate the diversity of women's experiences and identities. Use language that acknowledges the intersectionality of gender with other aspects of identity, such as race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and disability.



7. Listen and learn


Take the time to listen to women's experiences and perspectives. Use language that reflects empathy, understanding, and support for their lived experiences. Avoid dismissing or invalidating their feelings and opinions.


8.  Promote gender equality


Speak up to advocate for gender equality and social justice. Support initiatives that promote equal opportunities for women in education, employment, and leadership roles.


If you do not identify as a woman, consider how you can role model and inspire inclusion for those around you.


Let's use our words to uplift and empower women, and to create a more inclusive and equitable society for all.

Let me know if you can use help with communications, marketing, or leadership.


I help purpose-driven professional services firms and organizations avoid BORING and boost employee engagement, productivity, and readership. I translate technical, complex, and lackluster language into accessible, dynamic, story-driven text.


Fertile Ground Communications LLC is a certified woman-owned business enterprise, disadvantaged business enterprise, and emerging small business.

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