Gender and communication: how language shapes our perceptions


Communication is the cornerstone of human interaction and is a crucial element in our lives. It shapes our relationships with others and influences how we perceive ourselves and the world around us. Gender and communication have been long-standing topics of discussion in psychology. The way we communicate and the language we use can have an enormous impact on our perceptions and attitudes towards gender. In this article, we will discuss how language shapes our perceptions of gender and its effects on our society.

The Importance of Language in Gender

Language plays a vital role in shaping our perceptions of the world around us. It has the power to influence our thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes. Our use of language is informed by our experiences, culture, and societal norms. In the case of gender, language can have a profound impact on how we view ourselves and others. Words and phrases often carry associations and connotations that reflect gender stereotypes and reinforce gender norms. For instance, words such as "bossy" and "emotional" are often associated with women, while words like "strong" and "rational" are associated with men. These gendered words can affect how we perceive people and can contribute to gender biases. Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of language on gender. From a young age, they are exposed to gendered language and stereotypes that can affect their self-image and beliefs about gender roles. For example, a girl who is constantly told she is "pretty" may come to value her appearance over her abilities.

The Role of Gendered Language

Gendered language refers to the use of language that reinforces gender stereotypes and perpetuates gender roles. It can manifest in various ways, such as through pronouns, titles, and descriptors. The use of gendered language can contribute to gender bias and reinforce gender inequality. One common example of gendered language is the use of the pronoun "he" as a generic term to refer to both sexes. This practice excludes women and reinforces the idea that men are the default gender. Another example is the use of titles such as "Mr." and "Mrs." that denote marital status. These titles are often unnecessary and can reinforce the idea that a woman's worth is tied to her marital status. Gendered language can also impact how we think and talk about gender roles. For example, the phrase "working mother" implies that motherhood is not a form of work, while "working father" does not carry the same connotation. Gendered descriptors such as "emotional" or "bossy" can reinforce negative stereotypes about women and contribute to gender bias.

The Impact of Gendered Language on Society

The use of gendered language can have far-reaching effects on society, from perpetuating gender inequality to hindering women's progress in various fields. Gendered language can contribute to the gender pay gap, as women are often undervalued and underpaid due to gender stereotypes. It can also undermine women's leadership abilities by perpetuating the stereotype that women are not suited for leadership roles. Gendered language can also affect our perceptions of women's and men's abilities and roles. For instance, the phrase "man up" implies that men should be tough and unemotional. This stereotype can harm men who struggle with mental health issues and undermine women who show leadership qualities. The effects of gendered language can also be seen in the media. Women are often objectified and sexualized in the media, and their achievements are often overlooked in favor of their appearance. This can reinforce negative gender stereotypes and contribute to the marginalization of women.


Language plays a crucial role in shaping our perceptions of gender and contributes to the perpetuation of gender stereotypes and inequality. It is up to us to be mindful of the language we use and how it affects those around us. By using gender-inclusive language, we can contribute to a more equitable and just society. It is essential to recognize the power that language holds in shaping our thoughts and attitudes towards gender and work to create a more inclusive world for all.