Northern Arizona University student lost credit on an English paper for using the word “mankind” instead of a gender-neutral alternative.
Cailin Jeffers, an English major at NAU, told Campus Reform that she received an email from one of her professors, Dr. Anne Scott, informing her that she had been docked one point out of a possible 50 on a recent paper for “problems with diction (word choice)” related to her use of the word “mankind” as a synonym for “humanity.”
“I would be negligent, as a professor who is running a class about the human condition and the assumptions we make about being ‘human,’ if I did not also raise this issue of gendered language and ask my students to respect the need for gender-neutral language,” Scott explained. “The words we use matter very much, or else teachers would not be making an issue of this at all, and the MLA would not be making recommendations for gender-neutral language at the national level.”
Scott then offered to let Jeffers revise the paper to earn additional points in five categories, including diction, but noted that she is under no obligation to do so.