Checklist for including communication

Let the list help you to check you webbsite or your print works from a gender equality and inclusive perspective.

Text

Always be careful to spell out what is meant.

Actively highlight the norm! If we leave something unwritten, it is often assumed to be what is obvious and “natural”. Only do this when it is relevant and crucial to the content:

  • Write heterosexual couples if that is what is meant, not just couples.
  • Write men's and women'sfootball, male genius – female genius, male nurse – female nurse or other distinctions based on gender.

Sometimes do the opposite. 

Refrain from des­criptions of deviation from the norm, where it is not relevant to the context. For example, you can write pastors instead of female pastors, even if there are only females in the image, and thereby contribute to broadening views of who can represent the profes­sional category. 

Pay attention to whether you are creating an ‘us’ and ‘them’.

Writing they in reference to groups creates and reinforces prevailing ideas of us and them which can lead to exclusion for certain groups. Try as far as possible to pay attention to who is included and excluded in the text and what perception this gives rise to in the reader.

Adapt the level of language.

Adapt the level of language to the target group to make the text as easy to read and as inclusive as possible.

Avoid using the passive voice. 

Write in active voice.

Avoid writing long sentences with several subclauses.

Long complex sentences can be challenging for the reader.

Avoid using specialised technical terms.

Unless the text is only intended for researchers in the field, avoid using specialised technical terms. When you must use technical terms, explain them in the text. If you refer to information, books, films, etc. that not everyone may be familiar with, briefly describe the reference so that everyone who does not have prior knowledge can understand.

Look at how people of different genders are presen­ted and represented.

Are both she and he used in examples and argumentation? Does the text use he or she, they, one or people? Do examples include different genders, concepts such as non-binary and other concepts that many people can relate to? Avoid traps such as describing gender according to stereotypes.

Count the number of non-normative examples. 

Count the number of entries on your website, broc­hure or Facebook page on the basis of the various grounds on which discrimination occurs. Are non-nor­mative examples, texts and stories linked to e.g. sexual orientation, ethnicity, age and disability used? If not, see whether you can swap some examples for others. 

Do not use words that reinforce the prevailing norms and exclude certain groups.

Write regardless of gender or all genders instead of both genders or opposite gender, as these words assume that there are only two possible genders. Other is also a word that reinforces norms and excludes if it is used before groups that deviate from the norm.

Use language that describes people with disabilities as people, and not only as their disability.

Use a person with e.g. disability instead of e.g. a disabled person or a handicapped person

Image

It is not only the subject depicted that can determine how an image is interpreted; several factors can come into play: image composition, cropping, focus point, size combined with headings or text.

For more gender equal and inclusive image communication, start with

  • Calculating with reference to the grounds on which discrimination occurs: how many people of different genders are visible in the images? What about age, gender expression, skin colour and disability?
  • Examining the situations in which the people above are presented: do their surroundings rein­force prejudices linked to the grounds on which discrimination occurs?

What do the images tell us?

  • Where are people looking? What does their gaze signal?
  • How is the power balance perceived?
  • How is the body language? 
  • Is any gender depicted as passive or active? 
  • How has the image been taken? Has the person been photographed from above (can be percei­ved as subordinate) or from below (can radiate power)? 

Test a gender swap.

What happens if we swap the models’ genders in an image? If nothing happens, you probably have a gender-neutral image. 

Try, as gender-aware photographer Thomas Gun­narsson says, “to include without highlighting” – i.e. without making a big thing out of it. Allow people who contradict the norms to represent everyone and not only the group that society perceives them to be part of.

Ask another communications officer to go through your text and images.

How do they perceive the texts and images separately and together?

The Checklist above in PDF format for printing: Put it on the wall and let it be a help in everyday life!