EX­CLU­SIVE: UNI­VER­SITY SEX BAN PC out­rage as stu­dents lose marks for us­ing ev­ery­day lan­guage in as­sign­ments

The Courier-Mail - - FRONT PAGE - NATASHA BITA

THE state’s lead­ing uni­ver­si­ties are pun­ish­ing stu­dents us­ing words such as “mankind” and “work­man­ship”, claim­ing they are sex­ist.

In a PC ban that has sparked out­rage, stu­dents are los­ing marks for us­ing “gen­dered lan­guage”, in­clud­ing the words “she”, “man” and “wife”.

Uni­ver­sity of Queens­land stu­dents have com­plained about aca­demics tar­get­ing gen­dered word use, which is pe­nalised as harshly as poor punc­tu­a­tion.

Grif­fith Uni­ver­sity and Queens­land Uni­ver­sity of Tech­nol­ogy also have in­clu­sive lan­guage poli­cies that warn against us­ing “mother”, “house­wife” and “chair­man”.

UNI­VER­SI­TIES have banned words such as “mankind” and “work­man­ship” as sex­ist, and are mark­ing down stu­dents for us­ing “gen­dered lan­guage’’ .

Queens­land’s top unis all now de­mand that “in­clu­sive lan­guage’’ be used in es­says, as­sign­ments, lec­tures and con­ver­sa­tion, in “nanny state’’ poli­cies rub­bished yes­ter­day by an an­gry fed­eral Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Si­mon Birm­ing­ham and state Op­po­si­tion Leader Deb Freck­ling­ton. Other words in­clud­ing “she”, “man”, “wife” and “mother’’ are off lim­its at some uni­ver­si­ties.

Uni­ver­sity of Queens­land stu­dents have com­plained about aca­demics dock­ing marks for us­ing the word “mankind’’ in es­says.

A pol­i­tics stu­dent was pe­nalised for us­ing the gram­mat­i­cally cor­rect pro­noun of “she’’ to de­scribe a car.

“Peo­ple are los­ing marks for us­ing ev­ery­day speech be­cause it’s not gen­der-neu­tral,’’ the stu­dent, who asked to re­main anony­mous, told The Courier Mail. “I lost marks be­cause I used ‘mankind’’ ... and I re­ferred to a car I owned as ‘she is my pride and joy’.”

A science stu­dent lost marks for us­ing “mankind’’ in an es­say about the phi­los­o­phy of sci­en­tific method. “I lost 10 marks – it’s such a stupid thing to be marked down for,’’ the stu­dent said. “I heard of a girl in a dif­fer­ent course who was marked down for us­ing the words ‘man-made’ and ‘sports­man­ship’. It’s a bit ridicu­lous – you can’t just ban ev­ery word with ‘man’ in it.’’

Ms Freck­ling­ton blasted the “po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness gone mad’’. “What’s next – we can’t say ‘ Mother Na­ture’ ei­ther?’’ she said. “Surely we have big­ger is­sues for our next gen­er­a­tion of lead­ers ... I can’t be­lieve this lefty po­lit­i­cal cor- rect­ness ide­ol­ogy that (Premier) An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk loves so much is in­fil­trat­ing our learn­ing in­sti­tu­tions.’’

Sen­a­tor Birm­ing­ham said it was “be­yond the pale’’ that uni­ver­si­ties were dic­tat­ing “nanny state stuff’’.

“This just re­in­forces the stereo­type of aca­demic elites in ivory tow­ers judg­ing ev­ery­day Aus­tralians,’’ he said.

“Our uni­ver­si­ties should be bet­ter than this rub­bish.’’

Sen­a­tor Birm­ing­ham said he wanted his two young daugh­ters to “be­lieve that any dream is pos­si­ble and to pur­sue any op­por­tu­nity free of sex­ism’’. “But that’s com­pletely sep­a­rate to these iden­tity pol­i­tics fads,’’ he said.

“I ex­pect we’ll see more stu­dents call­ing out any uni­ver­si­ties or aca­demics who try to push these agen­das and I en­cour­age them to do so.”

UQ’s es­say guide for po­lit­i­cal science in­structs stu­dents to use “gen­der-neu­tral lan­guage’’. “The use of ‘he’, ‘him’, or ‘his’ as the de­fault pro­noun should not oc­cur; do not use ‘man’ to mean hu- man­ity in gen­eral,’’ it says. “Nor should you use fe­male pro­nouns when re­fer­ring to inan­i­mate ob­jects, for in­stance re­fer­ring to a boat as she.’’

The Ox­ford Dic­tio­nary states that “she’’ is “used to re­fer to a ship, ve­hi­cle, coun­try or other inan­i­mate thing re­garded as fe­male’’.

And the Mac­quarie Dic­tio­nary de­fines “mankind’’ as “the hu­man race; hu­man be­ings col­lec­tively’’.

Act­ing ex­ec­u­tive dean of UQ’s Fac­ulty of Hu­man­i­ties and So­cial Sciences, Pro­fes­sor

Our unis should be bet­ter than this rub­bish ... I ex­pect we’ll see more stu­dents call­ing out any uni­ver­si­ties sities oor acada­ca­demics demics css who try y to o push these se agen­das s and dI en­cour­age ourage them to o do so Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Si­mon Birm­ing­ham ( left)

Julie Duck, said gen­dered lan­guage could “marginally im­pact an es­say mark’’.

“The fac­ulty … does not have a pol­icy to mark down stu­dents for us­ing gen­dered lan­guage any more than it does for split in­fini­tives, mis­placed apos­tro­phes, im­proper cap­i­tal­i­sa­tion of words, and so on,’’ she said.

“Stu­dents are ad­vised to avoid gen­der-bi­ased lan­guage in the same way they are ad­vised to avoid racist lan­guage, cliches, con­trac­tions, col­lo­qui­alisms and slang in their es- says. Any of these mat­ters may marginally im­pact an es­say mark, but it de­pends on con­text and ex­tent.’’

Queens­land Uni­ver­sity of Tech­nol­ogy stu­dents can be pe­nalised for fail­ing to use “in­clu­sive lan­guage’’.

“It is also QUT pol­icy to use in­clu­sive lan­guage, and you will lose marks in your as­sess­ment if you do not fol­low these guide­lines,’’ the QUT Style guide for jour­nal­ism stu­dents states.

It in­structs stu­dents to “steer away’’ from de­scrib­ing women in a “stereo­typed man­ner’’, such as “wife of’’, “mother of three’’, “home maker’’ or “house­wife’’. The suf­fix “man’’ is banned.

“Words like ‘mankind’ and ‘chair­man’ make peo­ple think ‘male’ rather than ‘fe­male’ and make women in­vis­i­ble,’’ ac­cord­ing to the QUT’s guide to in­clu­sive lan­guage for staff and stu­dents. “Find words that in­clude both sexes.”

A QUT spokesman said the style guide was for jour­nal­ism stu­dents only and there was “no uni­ver­sity pol- icy re­quir­ing the use of in­clu­sive lan­guage in as­sess­ments”.

Grif­fith Uni­ver­sity tells staff and stu­dents that they should “look for non-bi­nary pro­nouns so that mis­gen­der­ing doesn’t oc­cur’’.

Its Words Mat­ter guide la­bels it “in­ap­pro­pri­ate’’ to use the words man, mankind, spokesman, chair­man, work­man­ship or man­power.

Stu­dents and aca­demics must re­fer to hu­mans, hu­mankind, spokesper­son, chair­per­son, qual­ity of work/ skill or work­force. “Good morn­ing ladies and gen­tle­men’’ is banned in favour of “good morn­ing col­leagues/ ev­ery­one’’.

The Uni­ver­sity of Cen­tral Queens­land cau­tions stu­dents that if they quote from sources that use sex­ist ma­te­rial, they must use (sic) to “in­di­cate ob­jec­tion to the us­age’’.

The Uni­ver­sity of Syd­ney in­sists that “non-dis­crim­i­na­tory lan­guage’’ be used – even if it is gram­mat­i­cally wrong.

It uses the ex­am­ple, “If a stu­dent wants their re­sults early, they should go to the stu­dent cen­tre”. “Although this last sen­tence is gram­mat­i­cally in­cor­rect, in speech it has be­come com­mon prac­tice to use the pro­noun ‘they’ when re­fer­ring to a generic per­son,’’ the style guide says.

Premier An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk yes­ter­day said uni­ver­si­ties were ad­min­is­tered by the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment.

“If the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment have con­cerns about the way our uni­ver­si­ties are run, they should look to them­selves,” she said.

ONCE again the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment has its pri­or­i­ties wrong, this time in re­gard to flu in­jec­tions ( C-M, Jun 5). In­stead of wast­ing mil­lions of tax­payer dol­lars on ad­ver­tis­ing how good they are, the Gov­ern­ment should have spent that money en­sur­ing it had suf­fi­cient doses of the vac­cine to meet de­mand. We need more real doc­tors and fewer spin doc­tors. Max Tanzer, El­liott Heads

An ex­am­ple of the UQ as­sess­ment mark­ing

UQ Pro­fes­sor Julie Duck

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