Nations using relatively gender-neutral languages have a smaller Gender Wage Gap (GWG) than countries with clear gender differentions in their languages, reported University of Warsaw’s Lucas van der Velde, Joanna Tyrowicz, and Joanna Siwinska.
They evaluated Yale linguists Benjamin Whorf and Edward Sapir’s hypothesis that linguistic categories influence perception, thinking, and behavior by examining data from the World Atlas of Linguistic Structures to determine whether the primary language spoken in a given country had a “sex-based gender system” of grammar rules like gender-specific noun and pronouns.
For example, French language links specific nouns to genders, whereas English generally uses different pronouns for men and women (“his” and “hers”) — despite the increasing use of “they” to indicate an individual of either gender, not a group of people.
In contrast, Mandarin or Finnish languages “have no system of gender identification.”
In addition, van der Velde’s team analyzed whether the primary language contained expressions that tend to celebrate one gender while disparaging another.
They compared this information with estimates for Gender Wage Disparities (GWD) in more than 50 countries from 117 studies published between 2005 and 2014.
The team proposed that, “the gender wage gap may be driven by some deep societal features stemming from such basic social codes as language,” reinforcing the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis.
University of Gdańsk’s Katarzyna Bojarska posited a similar Cognitive–Cultural (C-C) model: Gender cues are implicitly and unconsciously used to decode a message’s full meaning in addition to its semantic content.
She argued that when gender is not clearly specified, unconscious cognitive processing attempts to plausibly reconstruct missing gender information with non-semantic cues.
These findings suggest that countries that favor policies to reduce disparate earnings by gender can enable this goal by providing early training to set children’s expectations of gender equality, particularly in countries using a gendered language,
-*To what extent has your workplace adopted gender-inclusive language?
-*How does your organization’s use of gendered language relate to its wage parity practices?
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