Gender-sensitive language

Words Matter

The following information about different forms and our use of gender-sensitive language refers to the German language. In order to give you some orientation and insights into the German debates we offer this translation:

The Equal Opportunities Office is committed to the use of discrimination-sensitive language at the University of Bremen. In order to address as many people as possible, we use spellings with an asterisk (Gender-Star) in German e.g. “Professor*in”. Its individual rays refer to a diversity of gender identities and to other categories of identity such as age, class, race or ability. The spelling also corresponds to the current German civil status law. Since 2019, there has been the option of entering “male”, “female” or “diverse” as a person’s gender, as well as leaving the gender entry open.

The generic masculine form, which still occurs in many German texts and the use of which is justified by supposedly improved (or easier) readability, excludes women, trans*, inter* and non-binary persons. They do not feel addressed. Besides the Gender-Star a variety of differentiated formulation options exists that enable a gender and diversity-sensitive use of the German language.

For some time now, we observe an increasing use of the colon as in “Professor:in”. It is assumed that screen readers can read this form of gender-sensitive writing more easily. Experts from the community of blind and visually impaired persons do not agree with that argument because the different screen reader programmes vary in their settings. Some do read an intended pause, whereas others read the colon as a word in the same way they do with the asterisk. Therefore, we cannot recommend one of the two forms of gender-sensitive writing over the other in regard of barrier free writing. As the colon does not symbolize the wide scope of gender plurality and further diversity dimensions as explained for the Gender-Star above, we continue to recommend the use of the Gender-Star in German.



Anneliese Niehoff

E-Mail:  anneliese.niehoffprotect me ?!vw.uni-bremenprotect me ?!.de
Phone:  (0421) 218 - 60181
Building: Unicom 2, Haus Oxford
Room:  tba Lisa Spanka

E-Mail:  lisa.spankaprotect me ?!vw.uni-bremenprotect me ?!.de
Phone:  (0421) 218 - 60186
Building: Unicom 2, Haus Oxford
Room: 2.0120