Civil service bars gender inclusive spelling in official documents — report

Employees of national agency instructed to only use classic masculine spelling rather than male/female option favored by progressives

Illustrative: Icons for male and female cut into a wooden block (Devenorr; iStock by Getty Images)
Illustrative: Icons for male and female cut into a wooden block (Devenorr; iStock by Getty Images)

The Civil Service Commission has instructed employees to stop using dual-gendered terms on official documents, and to only use masculine spelling, a Wednesday report said.

Hebrew nouns are gendered, with the spelling of the word indicating whether it is masculine or feminine. For mixed-gender groups, the spelling traditionally defaults to the masculine form.

To boost gender equality, some progressives have taken to including both the masculine and feminine spelling at the end of a word, using a slash mark to include both. (A roughly analogous usage in English would be a restaurant job posting for a “waiter/tress.”)

The new ruling by the civil service would bar employees from using such terms on official tenders, contracts and other documents, and only allow the masculine spelling, the Walla news site reported.

“The civil service commissioner has decided that the writing on documents such as job descriptions and contracts will be in the neutral masculine form, without using slashes,” the instruction said.

The head of the civil service, Daniel Hershkowitz, issued the order to the service’s management, saying such terminology “complicates the spelling, makes reading difficult and creates linguistic disruptions,” Walla reported.

The order cited the Hebrew Language Academy, which says using the masculine form as a neutral term is appropriate.

Labor party leader Merav Michaeli, a leading proponent of gender equality in the Knesset, said, “This is exactly how the exclusion of over 50% of the population looks.”

“They don’t just want to not appoint women, they don’t even want them to apply,” she said.

The Netanyahu government has been repeatedly criticized for its policies toward women, including for the low number of women in leadership positions in the coalition.

The government came under fire this week for advancing a bill to reorganize the official national authority for advancing gender equality. Critics say the move will deprive the authority of its professional independence and instead subject it to the whims of politicians.

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