What does „gendern“ or „geschlechtergerechte Sprache“ mean?

Why should we do that? 
  • to promote equality
  • to stop discrimination/invisibility of certain groups
  • to stop reproduction of stereotypical role models (der Arzt – die Krankenschwester vs. die Ärztin – der Krankenpfleger)
  • to promote an inclusive language
What is the idea behind it? 

The idea is that language is a powerful tool and what and how we say things, is how we see and think them. If we do not name everyone, we do not think of everyone.

What options do I have to do that? 
Name of the method Paarform Binnen-I Schrägstrich Gender Gap Sternchen/Asterisk geschlechtsneutraler Plural Passiv
male plural (not inclusive) die Studenten die Mechaniker die Frisöre die Manager die Trainer die Teilnehmer Die Sekretäre schicken ein E-Mail.
examples for inclusive forms (plural) die Studenten und Studentinnen die MechanikerInnen

der/die  MechanikerIn

die Frisör/innen die Manager_innen die Trainer*innen die Teilnehmenden Das E-Mail wird geschickt.
examples for inclusive forms (singular) der Student und die Studentin der/die  MechanikerIn der/die Frisör/in der_die Manger_in der*die Trainer*in der/die Teilnehmende Das E-Mail wird geschickt
meaning/result makes male and female gender visible makes male and female gender visible makes male and female gender visible makes all genders visible, also people who do not want to be categorized or feel part of male or female makes all genders visible, also people who do not want to be categorized or feel part of male or female neutralizes gender neutralizes gender
pronunciation die Studenten und Studentinnen

der Student und die Studentin

die Mechaniker und Mechanikerinnen

der Mechaniker und  die Mechnikerin

die Frisöre und Frisörinnen

der Frisör und die Frisörin

die Manager (pause) innen

der (pause) die Manager (pause) in

die Trainer (pause) innen

der (pause) die Trainer (pause) in

die Teilnehmenden

der oder die Teilnehmende

Do I have to do that? 

Generally speaking: no.

BUT:

The Austrian government has fixed the non-discrimination and equality law in the Austrian Constitution under article 7 paragraph 2. to promote the use of the proposed forms above. Most universities require their students to use gender neutral or inclusive language and a lot of companies are implementing or already have implemented these rules as well.

What you choose to use in your private life is of course still up to you.