I caught a re-run of one of my favorite sitcoms, The Middle, and it reminded me of a post I wrote for Techbridge several years ago, when this particular episode aired for the first time. The older son in this comedic family, Axl, says “Engineers are the guys who build bridges.” Not only is this definition of engineers extremely narrow, the gendered word “guys” continues to rub me the wrong way.
In all of our conversation, but particularly when working and talking with youth, gendered words matter. They accumulate in our subconscious and color our understanding of the world.
We may say “guys” to be an all-inclusive word referring to everybody, but we can’t ignore the overarching male inference of the word.
I’m recommitting today, inspired by Axl Heck, to watch my own gendered language and my assumptions, and to be even more aware of my words when I’m interacting with youth.