Töchter, Söhne

Sorry, guys, I need to post this.

Recently I went through all the critical remarks students put in their evaluation comments for my course in computer organization for the spring term 2015. I had in mind to post my replies to these critical remarks in order to show that I take evaluation seriously.

But then I got stuck with just one remark. A student wrote the following:

“Es sollten Studenten mit älterer Matrikelnummer und Frauen nicht benachteiligt werden.”

Apparently, someone wanted to tell me that she does not like that — in her opinion — I discriminate against students with older registration numbers and women.

The short answer is this: How on earth could some student come to this conclusion? Just to make sure that I make myself understood:

Apparently, someone wanted to tell me that SHE or HE does not like that — in HER or HIS opinion — I discriminate against students with older registration numbers and women.

Let me comment on the issue with my alleged discrimination against women first. When I read the student’s comment some days ago, I asked several students whether they think that (1) this could be the case, and (2) whether they also have heard about this accusation.

One student told me that “there seems to be the rumor going around” that KC Posch discriminates against women. Another student said that she thinks that this rumor started by interpreting my use of the pronoun “she” as the gender-neutral version meaning “she or he” (or “he or she”) in my writing; in particular, when I come forward with critical remarks with regard to student’s behavior.

If this were in fact the case, I would call it a clear case of misunderstanding. To put it clearly: I never intentionally have discriminated women.

Now to the second issue with discrimination against students with older registration numbers.

Same answer here: I never intentionally have discriminated students with older registration numbers.

Maybe my comments on the relative performance of various student ages with respect to grades in my courses have helped to create this — in my mind — clearly wrong opinion.

Let me cite from Wikipedia:

“Discrimination is treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing is perceived to belong to rather than on individual merit.”

I would like to emphasize that my grading is only due to individual merit, no matter which age the registration number of some student has.

I like the concept of “Töchter, Söhne”. If it would fit the melody, I would even include “mit neuen und alten Matrikelnummern”.

By the way: In the Swedish language there is a gender-free pronoun which has the meaning “she or he”. This new pronoun is “hen”.

Also in English there has been a long discussion about introducing a gender-free pronoun. Maybe I should start using it in my postings. But it would lead to even more confusion, I am afraid. If you are interested, read here:

And then there is German: I might start using “S.u.S”, i.e. “StudentInnen und Studenten”. How about extending this with a notion on the age of the registration number: “S.u.S.m.a.u.n.M”?


2 thoughts on “Töchter, Söhne

    1. kcposch Post author

      If I used “they”, I’d run into the singular/plural problem. Of course, some of the fun to use “she” was also to “tickle” the the male-dominated community at TU Graz. Even ORF, the Austrian national broadcasting corporation, recently used the “she”-form as the gender-neutral form for a whole day. Guess which day it was?


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