by Mark Kelly - VCE Applied Computing, VCE Data Analytics, VCE Software Development

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Inclusiveness -

Gender, culture, language, age

Converted from slideshow 2022-04-25 @ 11:53 AM




  • Doing your best to make information available to as many people as possible by not excluding them.
  • Don’t deliberately, carelessly or ignorantly offend people based on their sex/gender or culture.
  • Don’t use language that offends or confuses.
  • Consider the different information needs of audiences of different ages.

Sex & Gender Inclusiveness

  • Some people get quite emotionally worked up when the issue of 'gender' arises. Be careful.
  • Start with knowing some similar and confusing terms….

The following definitions come from the Australian Government's Attorney-General's Department. (July 2013)

Gender Inclusiveness

  • "In 2013, the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 was amended to introduce new protections from discrimination on the grounds of
    • sexual orientation,
    • gender identity and
    • intersex status”

There are now three official sexes recognised by Australian law:

      • male;
      • female;
      • intersex.
  • Government guidelines say that "Where sex and/or gender information is collected and recorded in a personal record, individuals should be given the option to select
    • M (male),
    • F (female) or
    • X (Indeterminate / Intersex / Unspecified)."
  • Note : the Sex Discrimination Act is not examinable.
  • But remember that the collection, use, storage and disclosure of all personal information, including sex and gender information are regulated by the Privacy Act 1988" - which is examinable
  • But hang on… sex and gender are the same thing, aren’t they?
  • What do you think they mean?
  • Discuss.

Sex - "refers to the chromosomal, gonadal and anatomical characteristics associated with biological sex.”

  • i.e. the hardware one is born with
  • Gender - "is part of a person’s personal and social identity.
  • It refers to the way a person feels, presents and is recognised within the community.
  • A person’s gender may be reflected in outward social markers, including their name, outward appearance, mannerisms and dress."
  • Intersex - "refers to people who are born with genetic, hormonal or physical sex characteristics that are not typically ‘male’ or ‘female’.
  • Intersex people have a diversity of bodies and gender identities, and may identify as male or female or neither."

Just to confuse matters for you, the government's guidelines add that…

  • "Although sex and gender are conceptually distinct, these terms are commonly used interchangeably, including in legislation.
  • A person’s sex and gender may not necessarily be the same.
  • Some people may identify as a different gender to their birth sex and some people may identify as neither exclusively male nor female."
  • The guidelines say, "Individuals may have biological characteristics or undergo a variety of treatments that make it difficult to identify or define a person’s true biological sex.
  • Sex can also be legally changed in Australian identity documents, including birth certificates."
  • "Sex reassignment surgery and/or hormone therapy are not pre-requisites for the recognition of a change of gender in Australian Government records."

Gender Inclusiveness Tips

  • Don't assume readers are only either traditional males or females.
    • Gender involves shades of grey, not black and white.
  • Don't assume that readers will think a certain way because of the biological hardware with which they were born.
  • Don't alienate readers based on their sex or gender.
  • Don't assume that stereotypes are valid.
    • Pretty pink pastel colours for a webpage does not make "more it suitable for the girls."
    • Not all men are emotionally tough and enjoy footy and a beer.
    • Don't assign or assume stereotyped sex roles e.g. mechanics are male, a nurse must be female.
  • Wherever possible, do not even consider the sex or gender of readers.
    • As soon as you do, you're in trouble.

Avoid pronouns like "his" or "her". Instead of saying, "A clever reader will know that his options are limited." reword it:

    • "A clever reader will know that his or her options are limited
    • "Clever readers will know that their options are limited."
    • "A clever reader will know that their options are limited.“ (it’s grammatically-nasty, but its acceptance is growing)

Culture Inclusiveness

culture is a defining characteristic of a group of people based on their shared beliefs, history, attitudes, religious or political beliefs, preferences, habits, loves and hates, priorities, goals, etc.

An individual may belong to many cultures, for example a

  • Jewish (or Muslim or Buddhist or other)
  • aboriginal (or not)
  • teenage (or elderly)
  • boy or girl (or other)
  • barracks for St Kilda (or Melbourne Storm)
  • plays World of Warcraft (or Farmville)
  • is a regular in an online forum dedicated to Spongebob Squarepants (or Masterchef) may happily belong in 6 different cultures.

Cultures may…

  • Be ancient, or modern
  • Have dozens or billions of members
  • Be worldwide, or strictly local
  • Be life-defining or relatively trivial
  • Be dominant, or a minority
  • Be powerful or repressed
  • Be repressive or liberal


  • All members of a culture know what is expected of them if they are to be accepted or rejected.
  • They embrace and defend shared beliefs
  • They often work to maintain and develop their beliefs
  • They learn and avoid the culture’s taboos

An exercise…

  • Choose a culture. Any culture.
  • Describe the identifiable visible characteristics of its members.
  • List some taboos or expected behaviours or attitudes of the culture.
  • Explain the consequences of members disobeying their culture’s traditions, rules or expectations.
  • Describe how you might be affected if your MMOS offended members of a culture.

When writing for a global audience…

  • be aware that many or most readers will belong to cultures that may be slightly or completely differently to yours.
  • Don't assume that all readers will understand the references you use that are based on your culture, for example local geographic or climatic characteristics, slang, vocabulary, history.
  • For example, the "nasty January temperatures" means very different things to people in the northern and southern hemispheres.
  • Even saying "It reached 50 degrees" will mean different things to an Australian (thinking in degrees Celsius) and an American (thinking in degrees Fahrenheit).
  • Carelessly assuming that everyone is like you and shares your knowledge and values can lead to a backlash that you never could have anticipated.
  • If readers are annoyed or confused by what you say, they stop reading or listening.
  • The message is not conveyed. Your communication fails.

Commonality of language

  • "I was scoffing a Golden Gaytime on the tram on the way to the footy on Saturday arvo when this larrikin started carrying on like a dropkick. Fair dinkum, he rubbed me up the wrong way."
  • What would this statement mean to (for example) a schoolgirl in a Nigerian village?

We often use expressions and vocabulary that are bound to our cultures, but these may not be understood by some, many or all other people.

  • Use generic, simple, standard English.
  • Avoid slang which may be meaningless or misunderstood.
  • Keep sentences short and simple.
  • Constrain your vocabulary (without being condescending.)
    • Do you know what condescending means? You do? What a clever person you are.


  • Avoid terms you know will confuse different groups, e.g.
    • “Football” means a different game in nearly every country.
    • “Pants” in the UK is underwear.
    • “Get the toolbox out of the boot, then check under the bonnet” will mystify many Americans.
  • Clarify unavoidable terms e.g. he was eating a lamington (a small cubic cake coated with chocolate and coconut) when...

Age appropriateness

People’s age affects the nature of information that is suitable for them.

The following generalisations are typically true.

Young children:

  • have smaller vocabularies – they don’t know the meanings of many words yet.
  • lack understanding of certain concepts, such as death, divorce, tax returns, or menopause.
  • are sensitive to some topics may scare them, like traumatic accidents or domestic violence.

Oh yeah

Warn people about nudity, bad language, scary images before you expose them to it.

This is very important

Young children:

  • prefer text to be illustrated.
  • need larger text
  • should not be exposed to culturally-inappropriate material, e.g. bad language, racism, sexism, blasphemy, political liberalism.

Older people have different needs.

  • New technologies may need to be defined or explained.
  • They may be impatient because they know a lot more than you do.
  • They also need text to be larger
  • Design of GUI controls needs to accommodate people with shaky hands
  • Provide context-sensitive help, subtitles for audio, labels for icons

In conclusion

  • Try to anticipate the nature, needs and preferences of your audience.
  • It is nearly impossible to perfectly satisfy every possible age group, culture and sexual identity – but try anyway.
  • When you can't please everyone, try to offend, anger, or confuse as few people as you can .
  • The audience of your communications are usually voluntary.
  • Readers / viewers / listeners are not forced to keep paying attention.
  • And even if they are a captive audience, do your best
  • (Hi kids! Enjoying this IT class slideshow? No? Try leaving. I dare you...)
  • Audiences will leave – or stop reading - if they are
  • offended, annoyed
  • confused,
  • bored, uninterested,
  • feeling excluded, distrustful of you
  • dying for a coffee
  • generally unimpressed
  • If your audience leaves, stops reading, falls asleep or riots.
  • The communication of your message has failed.

The moral of this story

  • Don't assume
  • Don't exclude people because of their age, culture, sex or gender
    • Unless the audience is specific - e.g. catering to 5 year olds during an explanation of the history of Chinese tax laws is not strictly necessary
  • Be aware
  • Be fair
  • Be considerate
  • Be clear
  • Be interesting
  • Just be nice to everyone.


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This page was created from its slideshow on 2022-04-25 @ 11:57 AM
Last modified on Tuesday 26 April, 2022 11:19