Dec 10, 2019

Merriam-Webster's 2019 word of the year: "They"

Photo: Joanne K. Watson/Merriam-Webster via Getty Images

Merriam-Webster declared the personal pronoun "they" as word of the year, with a 313% increase in Merriam-Webster.com lookups over 2018, AP reports.

Why it matters: Merriam-Webster recently added a new definition to its online dictionary to reflect use of "they" as relating to a person whose gender identity is nonbinary.

In October, the American Psychological Association endorsed "they" as a singular third-person pronoun in its style guide for scholarly writing.

  • "We believe writers should try to use a person's self-identified pronoun whenever feasible," said Jasper Simons, chief publishing officer for the APA.
  • "The singular 'they' is a way for writers to avoid making assumptions about gender when it is not known."

Flashback: The American Dialect Society, which is dedicated to the study of the English language in North America, named "they" its word of the year for 2015, in recognition of its emergence among people who reject "he" and "she."

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FBI director under Carter and Reagan slams Trump and Barr

Judge William Webster, former FBI and CIA director. Photo: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

William Webster, a former federal judge and the former director of both the FBI and the CIA, said in a New York Times op-ed that President Trump and Attorney General William Barr's attacks on the FBI are "troubling in the extreme."

"Calling FBI professionals 'scum,' as the president did, is a slur against people who risk their lives to keep us safe. Mr. Barr’s charges of bias within the FBI, made without providing any evidence and in direct dispute of the findings of the nonpartisan inspector general, risk inflicting enduring damage on this critically important institution."
Go deeperArrowDec 16, 2019

LGBTQ+ individuals face harassment in astronomy, planetary science

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

LGBTQPAN* women and gender non-conforming individuals in astronomy and planetary science face harassment in their workplaces, according to a new study in the Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society.

Why it matters: The study is a stark look into the hostile environment many members of the astronomy and planetary science community face at work.

Go deeperArrowDec 17, 2019

Women won't see equal pay for another 257 years, report says

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Women around the world aren't expected to see equal pay until 2277 at the current rate of change, according to findings from the Global Gender Gap Report 2020, which measured the gender gap from 153 countries across economics, politics, education and health.

The big picture: Though the report says that women in the U.S. are "relatively well-represented" in high management roles, the global economic gender gap is expected to widen for several reasons: Women are highly represented in jobs being displaced by automation, aren't entering professions with high wage growth and spend more time than men in caretaker and volunteer roles.

Go deeperArrowDec 18, 2019