Important News from the European Parliament: Avoid Male Nurse

The serious work of the European Parliament continues. We received the following email missive from a female civil servant:

Dear Colleagues

The Bureau of the European Parliament adopted on 19 May 2008 the language specific guidelines for gender neutral language as outlined in the report by the High-Level Group on Gender Equality and Diversity.

DocEP is already ensuring that gender-neutral language is employed in all translations. You are kindly invited to respect the proposed options (e.g.: Rapporteur instead of Drafts(wo)man).

The models of the RdM will be updated as soon as possible.
The report of the High-Level Group is annexed.


Fernanda Martins
DG Internal Policies - Div.General Coordination Burotics/Informatics



It is generally not difficult to find a gender-neutral term for professions, occupations, functions, etc. in English, although there are some exceptions. The following is a non-binding list of recommendations, with alternatives where relevant.

    Actor/actress (actor is now commonly used for both sexes; use actress if the person’s sex is relevant)
    Ambassador (for both sexes)
    Author (not authoress)
    Business person / executive (plural: business people) (not businessman; alternatively and in plural contexts, use: business circles or business milieux)
    Doctor/physician (for both sexes, including for ‘Ärztin’, etc; avoid lady/woman doctor; also applies in the sense of ‘Ph.D.’)
    Firefighter (not fireman)
    Flight attendant or (in plural) flight crew (not air hostess)
    Head/head teacher (of primary or secondary school; not headmaster/headmistress)
    Lawyer (for both genders)
    Lay person (plural: lay people; not layman)
    Lecturer (for both genders)
    Manager (not manageress)
    Mayor (not mayoress)
    Midwife (for both sexes; there is no accepted alternative for male midwives)
    Nurse (for both sexes; avoid male nurse)
    Police officer (not policeman/policewoman unless the officer’s sex is relevant)
    Sales representative (not salesman)
    Speaker (for both sexes)
    Teacher (for both sexes)
    Translator (for both sexes, including for ‘traductrice’, ‘Übersetzerin’, etc)
    Usher (not usherette)
    Waiter/waitress (no gender-neutral term has been successfully proposed)
    Weather reporter/forecaster (not weatherman)
    Writer (for both sexes)

Unless a person's sex is relevant, do not precede professions, occupations or functions with 'lady', 'woman' or 'female'.

More words

Avoid father use allways mother when the sex is not relevant.
If necessary use hemother or shemother.


Q: If somebody considers a male midwife a "pervert", why would they give male gynaecologists a pass?


BTW: What IS the collective noun for a group of gynaecologists? If there isn't one, might I suggest a 'reflection' or a 'speculation' ...