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    #1

    she vs they

    "When an employee is eligible to join a company savings program, she gets a form saying she is enrolled. She doesn't have to do anything, but if she wants to opt out of the program, she has to sign a form."

    Hi,

    The text above was extracted from a today's newspaper. It starts with "employee", but then the writer opts to use the pronoun "she", instead of "they" or "he", and sticks with it untill the end of the entire paragraph.

    I have already noticed that "she" is the pronoun of choice in English when talking about a bird or a ship, for example.

    I wonder if "she" is always considered more appropriate when the gender is undetermined or opting for this or that one is of little or no importance in English.

    Thanks.

  1. Soup's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: she vs they

    Quote Originally Posted by jctgf View Post
    I wonder if "she" is always considered more appropriate when the gender is undetermined or opting for this or that one is of little or no importance in English.
    It depends on the context. What's the newspaper article about?

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    #3

    Re: she vs they

    The article is about the behavior of people in general, who many times do not care about doing the right thing. It begins talking about people's lack of interest in saving electric energy. Then, it comments about the lack of interest of many employees in joining the company's retirement savings plan. A larger excerpt follows:

    "Some companies have employee savings programs, and some offer to match a part of the employee's contribution free money, in effect. 'Taking full advantage of the match should be a no-brainer for all,' the authors write, yet typically, 30 per cent or more don't join. Their solution - one that has been adopted by some firms in recent years - is automatic enrollment in corporate savings programs. When an employee is eligible to join a company savings program, she..."

    As you can see, the subject is not relevant only to women, but to both genders.

    Thanks for any help.


    • Join Date: Feb 2008
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    #4

    Re: she vs they

    Quote Originally Posted by jctgf View Post
    The article is about the behavior of people in general, who many times do not care about doing the right thing. It begins talking about people's lack of interest in saving electric energy. Then, it comments about the lack of interest of many employees in joining the company's retirement savings plan. A larger excerpt follows:

    "Some companies have employee savings programs, and some offer to match a part of the employee's contribution – free money, in effect. 'Taking full advantage of the match should be a no-brainer for all,' the authors write, yet typically, 30 per cent or more don't join. Their solution - one that has been adopted by some firms in recent years - is automatic enrollment in corporate savings programs. When an employee is eligible to join a company savings program, she..."

    As you can see, the subject is not relevant only to women, but to both genders.

    Thanks for any help.
    I think it's linked to the concept of "political correctness" and women's lib. Up till fairly recently people have always said "he" or "him" when the gender is undetermined. Now it's our turn! As you know, you can now say "they" in order to avoid saying "he" or "she" but it doesn't work in all contexts.

  2. BobK's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: she vs they

    It sounds like a woman (or a pro-feminist man) who has arbitrarily adopted this convention ("she" instead of "he" for indeterminate gender) to redress the balance of history. The writer would probably call God "she" as well (because... why not?); come to think of it, s/he would probably talk about "redressing the balance of herstory.

    This sort of sexual politics doesn't make life easy for language learners!

    b

  3. tzfujimino's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: she vs they

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    come to think of it, s/he would probably talk about "redressing the balance of herstory.

    b


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    #7

    Re: she vs they

    Quote Originally Posted by naomimalan View Post
    As you know, you can now say "they" in order to avoid saying "he" or "she" but it doesn't work in all contexts.
    Native speakers have always been able to use 'they', Naomi. Do you have, have you ever had a problem with 'you' serving as a singular and plural?

  4. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: she vs they

    I know I've seen a lot of parenting magazines referring to children that alternate using "he" and "she" from one paragraph to the next to keep things balanced.


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    #9

    Re: she vs they

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    come to think of it, s/he would probably talk about "redressing the balance of herstory.



    b
    Hey, that's brilliant!

  5. Snowcake's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: she vs they

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    It sounds like a woman (or a pro-feminist man) who has arbitrarily adopted this convention ("she" instead of "he" for indeterminate gender) to redress the balance of history. The writer would probably call God "she" as well (because... why not?); come to think of it, s/he would probably talk about "redressing the balance of herstory.

    This sort of sexual politics doesn't make life easy for language learners!

    b

    I love this kind of deadpan humor. Thanks, Bob, you made my day. Funny thing to know for her...er...historians.

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