Unis reject claims of gender 'ban'

Education Minister Simon Birmingham has slammed universities moving towards gender-neutral language.
Education Minister Simon Birmingham has slammed universities moving towards gender-neutral language.

Australian universities have rejected claims they have banned the use of gender-specific language following comments made by federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham they were dictating "nanny state stuff".

Mr Birmingham slammed tertiary education institutions who have issued style guides to use gender-neutral language, in a report by NewsCorp saying they had placed a ban on words such as mankind, man-made, spokesman and manpower.

Also included among the examples was the use of pronouns such as "he" for a generic person and "she" for a car or ship.

Some students have complained that they have lost marks for using what are grammatically correct terms, News Corp reports.

Mr Birmingham said: "This just reinforces the stereotype of academic elites in ivory towers judging everyday Australians.

"Our universities should be better than this rubbish.''

But a number of universities have rejected the claims, saying they have only issued "guides" and not bans.

A spokeswoman from The University of Sydney said they have not banned the use of masculine pronouns.

"In cases where a person's gender is not known, the university encourages students to use either both the feminine and masculine pronouns - she or he, s/he - or to use they," the spokeswoman said.

Australian Associated Press