Equal Folks

Equal Strokes for Equal Folks

The other day a DJ on the morning show referred to a female as a “girl” who worked at a local gym. I noticed this as a common occurrence when he referenced women. I have yet to hear him refer to a member of the male species as a “boy” in an adult work situation. And…

He is not alone.

With the stroke of a pen and a flick of the tongue, influencers — such as DJs, podcasters, speakers, managers, and even coworkers — insist that “girls will be girls and boys will be men.” Really?

Really. To help him and all of us, I decided to build a table with the male and female counterparts. In my books, everyone one is equal. After publishing this piece, I realized I left off the “gender neutral” words. I updated this table with a new column to include gender neutral equivalent words.

To help remove bias speak, I offer the following tables.

MaleFemaleNeutral | Gender Inclusive
ManWomanPerson | Individual | Adult
GentlemanLadyHonorable- People |
Person | Individual
GuyGalPerson | Individual
Dear SirDear Madam | Ma’amTo Whom It May Concern  |
Dear Member | Dear Editor
ChairmanChairwomanChair | Chairperson | Coordinator | Head | Lead
Male DoctorFemale DoctorDoctor
DoormanDoorwomanDoor Attendant
Congress manCongress woman Representative | Senator
Congressional Representative | Legislator
MailmanMailwomanMail Carrier | Letter Carrier | Postal Worker
PolicemanPolicewomanPolice Officer
Steward StewardessFlight Attendant
Mankind | ManhoodWomankind |
People | Humans | Humanity

Our language, and the words we choose to communicate, must reflect respect — even more so in the workplace. Words hold power; let’s use them wisely. To that end, please check out some rules I have found to further help you communicate better.

Inclusion and Acceptance

While taking harassment training at Quinnipiac University in April of 2019, I realized I had a few more descriptors to add to the list above. These are gender inclusive.

In the table below, I included words that demonstrate kindness towards people who may be different from us — or towards ourselves if it describes us.

My good friend transformed within a 60-day period — from walking normally to now using a walker and a wheelchair. It’s been a shock on us all. After my training, I changed my language use from “confined to a wheelchair” to “using a wheelchair.” I feel better knowing how to phrase her story with kindness when people ask me.

DisabledPerson with a disability
DyslexicPerson with dyslexia
Confined to a wheelchairPerson who uses a wheelchair
Homosexual Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender
LGBT (Q at the end represents “queer” or “questioning)
Sexual PreferenceOrientation

This table can be expanded considerably when you check out the Society of Professional Journalists’ Diversity Style Guide. It also includes detailed lists for a kinder and gentler approach to communicating.

Thanks for letting us be a part of your life.


P.S. Like Aretha Franklin, “All I’m askin’ here is a little respect…” (Lyrics at https://www.lyrics.com/lyric/2877312/Aretha+Franklin/Respectand song history at https://www.cbsnews.com/news/untold-history-behind-aretha-franklin-respect/)

Rainbow of people symbols
We’re all in this world together,. Let’s treat each other with respect and be equality minded with our words.

Great reference sites for writing and speaking

Society of Professional Journalists | Diversity Style Guide http://www.diversitystyleguide.com/

North Carolina University | The Writing Center

Purdue | Online Writing Lab | OWL

Inclusion and Acceptance; check out GLAAD’s Media Guide http://www.glaad.org/sites/default/files/GLAAD-Media-Reference-Guide-Tenth-Edition.pdf