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Occupational titles and supposed gender-neutrality: A corpus-based diachronic study on gender-neutral occupational titles in American English
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.
2016 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Traditionally, some occupational titles have been explicitly marked for the gender of the group dominating the occupation. For example, in male-dominated occupations, titles often end with -man. However, since the second-wave feminist movement, several of the previously gender-biased titles have been supplemented by new, gender-neutral titles. Previous research has shown a discrepancy between researchers regarding the implications of these new titles. Some argue that the gender-neutral titles are only used for female referents, whereas others claim that gender-neutral titles, especially for male- dominated occupations, tend to still presuppose maleness. In the present paper, a corpus-based study is conducted on a few selected occupational titles. The aim is to investigate whether the gender-neutral alternatives have increased in usage over time, and whether the gender-biased ones have decreased. In addition, the study aims at examining whether the gender-neutral forms tend to be used primarily for women or men. The present study is corpus-based, examining the particular terms in the TIME Magazine Corpus. The results of the study show that there has been an increase of the gender-neutral forms since their introduction to English, and that they are primarily used when there is no explicit gender referencing. Proposed explanations for these results are that it may depend on the type of work involved in the selected occupations, as well as them being male-dominated. Furthermore, the results indicate that the gender- neutral terms are opted for when gender is either unknown or irrelevant for the context. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. , 35 p.
Keyword [en]
Occupational titles, gender-neutrality, corpus linguistics, language usage, American English.
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-130949OAI: diva2:934656
Available from: 2016-06-20 Created: 2016-06-09 Last updated: 2016-06-20Bibliographically approved

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Bovin, Maria
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