In gender marked languages, such as French and German, the masculine form is used to refer to several persons of both sexes or to persons ofindefinite or irrelevant sex. This is known as the generic masculine. In essence, this generic masculine should be used in a gender neutral way. However, on the assumption that language influences cognition, or more specifically thought, it is doubtful that the masculine form can be used in a non-gender-specific way.
Grounded in both social psychological and psycholinguistic concepts, this project investigates people’s automatic construction of a gender representation based on the generic masculine and on gender stereotypical information. This project, focused on role names, evaluates the interaction between potential biases accompanying the use of the generic masculine and biases due to stereotypical information. Through two experiments, conducted in German, French and English (in collaboration with the University of Sussex), the project attempts to shed light on the interplay of both grammatical information (the generic masculine) and context information (gender stereotypical information), on gender representation. Thus, this project aims to provide empirical and theoretical arguments on the notion that language, through the use of the generic masculine, as well as stereotypical information, discriminates against women.