Should letterheads and flyers be grammatically correct

Gender-appropriate languageGender equitable Hanover

The city of Hanover has introduced gender-sensitive language in its administration. Crucial here: What is it about and who should be addressed? A flyer should help the administration team with the appropriate salutation. Our reporter asked around to find out how it works in everyday life.

In the city of Hanover, everything starts at the very beginning with official letters: Addresses such as "Mr and Mrs anyway" or "Women and men" should actually be avoided entirely, says our reporter Kristin Mockenhaupt. The city of Hanover has issued extra flyers with new guidelines for its employees. What quickly becomes clear: There is no one right way, but formulations should be adapted to the target group, explains the equal opportunities officer of the city of Hanover, Friederike Kämpf.

"When it comes to addressing guests, just write 'Dear Guests' or 'Dear Guests'. When it comes to addressing colleagues, just write 'Dear Colleagues' with a nice gender asterisk. And when it comes to addressing the employees, I write 'Dear city administration employees.' "
Friederike Kämpf, Equal Opportunities Officer of the City of Hanover

The idea behind it: take a closer look at who is being addressed in which role and what it is actually about. For these different situations, the city of Hanover is now showing its employees how they can use cover letters to avoid people feeling disadvantaged because of their gender.

It depends on the situation and the group of people

But that does not mean that every administrative letter that the city of Hanover will send out in the future will be gender-neutral. For example, if it is clear that only women take part in an event, it is also possible to write "Dear women" or "Dear ladies".

The star is not barrier-free

In case of doubt, the guidelines recommend opting for a neutral form, such as employees, guests, participants, voters or students - as has long been the norm at many universities. The city does not recommend the frequently used gender star for texts, however, as it is not barrier-free. The software of language computers used by the visually impaired, for example, is then translated by colleagues as "Kolleg Stern Innen".

But addressing people in a gender-equitable manner is not enough. The city has once again made people aware that institutions that have a female article should also be treated grammatically correct. So the city of Hanover is not the publisher of a brochure, but the publisher.

Almost to be expected - the efforts of the city also cause criticism. "Gender madness" or "gender gaga" are used in the media and social media. And of course a classic among the rhetorical questions should not be missing: "Do we actually have no other problems?" Particularly anxious people even worry that Hanover could abolish the sexes. The employees themselves seem to be more open to the topic, at least so far you have not heard any criticism of the specifications.