description of activity

Adapted from Writing for Change

Ask your learners to examine phrases that use male nouns as “generic” included in the list below.

Have them describe the mental image created by each phrase. Do they see themselves and people like them in the images?

Ask them to substitute a term representing a group of people of a specific age, religion, or ethnicity for the male noun and describe the mental images created by using the substitute terms (example: “childkind”).

Does use of the new, specific term sound incongruous or unusual? Why?

Have them discuss how connotations are affected by word structure and by familiarity.

Finally, suggest a gender-free, inclusive term for each (ex: for “mankind,” “humanity” or “people”).

List of 'generic' terms

  • For the benefit of all mankind
  • All men are created equal
  • May the best man win
  • Prehistoric man
  • “To boldly go where no man has gone before”
  • Man of the Year
  • Peace on Earth, goodwill toward men
  • ͳhe founding fathers
  • Crown thy good with brotherhood
  • Friends, Romans, countrymen; lend me your ears


The trainer will feedback on the observation during the exercise
Participants will evaluate the experience of listening and summarising:

  • Is there a noticeable awareness of the important to use all including terms?
  • Is there a willingness to use them?

information on the activity

This activity involves examining the use of male-gendered nouns as “generic.”

As such, it aims to

  • challenge the notion of the generic male as inclusive
  • generate gender-free, inclusive nouns and pronouns

Participants will be able

to identify and explain, and apply ethical criteria for inclusive and constructive reporting.


A big room to facilitate the discussion.


Copies of the list of 'generic' names (see under Activity Description)


10-20 minutes


10 to 14

This content is also available in: Spanish