Non-inclusive language could elicit bad grades

Students sit outside a Hull University building.

Story highlights

  • A course at Hull University in England is championing gender-inclusive language
  • Students who do not use inclusive language in their work could get worse marks

(CNN)Students who don't use gender-neutral language in their essays could see their grades suffer at Hull University.

Documents obtained by the Sunday Times through a freedom of information request instruct students in a religious activism course at the English college to "be aware of the powerful and symbolic nature of language and use gender-sensitive formulations. Failure to use gender-sensitive language will impact your mark."
Hull is not the only British academic institution to highlight gender-neutral language. Cardiff Metropolitan University in Wales gave students a six-page "Guide to Inclusive Language," officials there told CNN.
The guide "sets out to promote fairness and equality by raising awareness about the effects of potentially discriminatory vocabulary," the university said in a statement.
But Cardiff Metropolitan University leaders also said the document "makes no demands, bans nothing and carries no sanctions." However, there's an expectation that gender-neutral language is beneficial to the student and will be used, they said.
At Hull University, "mankind," "manpower" and "manmade" aren't the only words that can prompt a worse grade; gendered pronouns also can decrease marks, the newspaper reported.
But the new rules may not last long.
"The requirement of gender-sensitive language in course work on the Religious Activism module and its link to marking is not usual practice and is already under review," Hull University told CNN.