Gender

Natural gender versus grammatical gender

The natural gender of a term is determined by an attribute of the concept it refers to, e.g. by the sex of a person.

Grammatical gender are categories of nouns in a language that trigger specific grammatical rules. The number of grammatical gender varies in different languages. English is an example for a gender-neutral language, French has two grammatical genders (masculine and feminine), German has three grammatical genders (masculine, feminine and neuter).

Often, but not always, grammatical gender corresponds with natural gender. This is illustrated with the following examples:

Term Language Grammatical gender Natural gender
Waiter English none masculine
Waitress English none feminine
Pêcheur French masculine masculine
Pêcheuse French feminine feminine
Nanny German neuter feminine

Gender-specific terms in ESCO

Gender attributes in ESCO

As of ESCO v1 ESCO indicates natural gender for occupation and qualification terms. The following table summarizes the indications of gender in ESCO and their meaning:

Gender Meaning for occupations Meaning for qualifications
Standard female The recommended term to refer to a woman working in the occupation, e.g. in the CV of a woman. The official title of the qualification when awarded to a woman.
Standard male The recommended term to refer to a man working in the occupation, e.g. in the CV of a man. The official title of the qualification when awarded to a man.
Female The term can be used to refer to a woman working in the occupation, e.g. in the CV of a woman. Title of the qualification when awarded to a woman.
Male The term can be used to refer to a man working in the occupation, e.g. in the CV of a man. Title of the qualification when awarded to a man.
Neutral The term can be used if the gender of the person working in the occupation is unknown, e.g. in a job vacancy. Title of the qualification when the gender of its holder is not known.

For each concept there can be only one standard male term and one standard female term. Since the preferred term (PT) of a concept is always the recommended term if the natural gender is unknown, there is no indication of "standard neutral". This role is always fulfilled by the PT.

Use cases

Gender-specific terms can be used by applications if the gender of the user is known. Gender can also be used to filter terms in search or in type ahead functions.

This is in particular important for the creation of CVs and jobseekers' profiles. Since the preferred terms in ESCO are formulated in a gender-neutral way they are not always appropriate to be put in a CV. A woman who worked as a waitress and who wants to describe her work experience in a CV probably prefers to use the female name of the occupation ("waitress"), rather than using a gender-neutral name ("waiter/waitress").


Examples

Example 1: Flight attendant (EN)

The occupation concept flight attendant will have the following gender-specific terms:

PT/NPT Term Standard female Standard male Female Male Neutral
PT Flight attendant 1) 2) 3)
NPT Air cabin crew member
NPT Air host
NPT Air host/hostess
NPT Air hostess
NPT Airline host/hostess
NPT Airline steward/stewardess
NPT Air steward
NPT Air steward/stewardess
NPT Steward
NPT Stewardess

1) Since the term is "standard female" there is no need to indicate it also as "female".

2) Since the term is "standard male" there is no need to indicate it also as "male".

3) A preferred term can always be used for cases where the natural gender is not known. It is therefore not necessary to indicate it as "neutral".

Example 2: Dermatologe (DE for dermatologist)

The occupation concept dermatologist in German could have the following terms:

PT/NPT Term Standard female Standard male Female Male Neutral
PT Dermatologe/in 1)
NPT Dermatologin 2)
NPT Dermatologe 3)
NPT Hautarzt/ärztin
NPT Hautärztin
NPT Hautarzt

1) A preferred term can always be used for cases where the natural gender is not known. It is therefore not necessary to indicate it as "neutral".

2) Since the term is "standard female" there is no need to indicate it also as "female".

3) Since the term is "standard male" there is no need to indicate it also as "male".

Example 3: Storyboard artist (EN)

For the occupation concept storyboard artist the following terms can be used:

PT/NPT Term Standard female Standard male Female Male Neutral
PT Storyboard artist 1) 2) 3)
NPT Film drawer

1) Since the term is "standard female" there is no need to indicate it also as "female".

2) Since the term is "standard male" there is no need to indicate it also as "male".

3) A preferred term can always be used for cases where the natural gender is not known. It is therefore not necessary to indicate it as "neutral".

Example 4: Diplom-Kaufmann/-frau (DE)

The German qualification "Diplom-Kaufmann/-frau" is not included in ESCO. As it is a national qualification covered by the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) it would only be included indirectly. It can however be used as an example to illustrate gender-specific qualification terms. When awarded to a woman the qualification is normally called "Diplom-Kauffrau"; when awarded to a man its title is "Diplom-Kaufmann":

PT/NPT Term Standard female Standard male Female Male Neutral
PT Diplom-Kaufmann/-frau 1)
NPT Diplom-Kauffrau 2)
NPT Diplom-Kaufmann 3)
NPT Dipl.-Kaufmann/-frau
NPT Dipl.-Kauffrau
NPT Dipl.-Kaufmann
NPT Dipl.-Kffr.
NPT Dipl.-Kfr.
NPT Dipl.-Kff.
NPT Dipl.-Kfm.

1) A preferred term can always be used for cases where the natural gender is not known. It is therefore not necessary to indicate it as "neutral".

2) Since the term is "standard female" there is no need to indicate it also as "female".

3) Since the term is "standard male" there is no need to indicate it also as "male".

Occupations with only one natural gender

In exceptional cases, occupations do not have a term for both genders for all languages. In these cases, the preferred term can be gender-specific and cannot be used in a neutral context. Terms for a natural gender that does normally exist for this occupation can be added as hidden terms (HT).

Occupations with only one natural gender occur in particular for religious occupations, such as Roman-catholic priest. The following table shows how this example could be treated in German language:

PT/NPT Term Standard female Standard male Female Male Neutral
PT Priester (römisch-katholische Kirche) 1)
NPT Römisch-katholischer Priester
HT 2) Priesterin (römisch-katholische Kirche)
HT 2) Römisch-katholische Priesterin

1) Since the term is "standard male" there is no need to indicate it also as "male".

2) A hidden term (HT) is used to find a concept (e.g. in a user search) but it is not recommended to use it for referring to the concept.

Links

Wikipedia: Grammatical gender

Wikipedia: List of languages by grammatical genders

Wikipedia: Gender-specific job title

European Commission, Directorate-General for Justice: Gender equality