Gender of the generic user

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systema encephale

Senior Member
I've found many times the generic 3rd person written as it was female. For example, I just read this sentence on a book:

A designer can decide to play it safe and include all those parasitic effects in her analysis and design optimization process.

In italian we usually tend to refer to the 3rd person as a male, that's why that "her" sounds strange to me. Do you consider it as a female in english?
  • Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    Since the 1970s, when a group of women's libbers decided that just using a generic "he" was the ultimate evil, the politically correct generally say "his or her".

    The alternative is to recast the sentence in the plural, and use their.
    It is very common to use their after a singular subject.
    Jane Austen did it nearly 200 years ago.

    Some people try to be even-handed by alternating between his and her, some use her all the time.

    Some use her as a private joke.


    New Member
    English - United Kingdom
    Quite often 'he' is used... certainly traditionally. Sometimes in an attempt to be fair and equal, people may interchange between the two and sometimes gender stereotyping is used - for example a designer may be a traditionally female occupation or a more feminine occupation, therefore 'she' may be deemed to be more appropriate.
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