Researchers from the United States and Canada suggested that scientists should stop using "harmful" terminology and instead adopt more "inclusive and precise" language, including replacing terms such as "male" and "female" with "sperm-producing" and "egg-producing," the New York Post reported.
A group of scientists with the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Language Project recently published a paper in the Trends in Ecology and Evolution journal recommending more "inclusive terminology in ecology and evolution" to combat the "ongoing marginalization of many groups."
The group's website lists 24 so-called "harmful terms" that should be banned from the scientific community, including "man," "woman," "mother," "father," "primitive," and "invasive."
According to the scientists, "primitive" and "invasive" are "used derogatorily towards humans or human practices, and also scientifically inaccurate as implies an evolutionary hierarchy."
The researchers claimed that the phrase "survival of the fittest" is also "harmful" because it is linked to "eugenics, ableism and social Darwinism."
The term "citizen science," which the researchers argued is "harmful to non-citizens," should be replaced with "participant science or community science."
"Discover" and "discovery" should be replaced with "identified" and "described" because the former "erases the longstanding, detailed ecological knowledge of Indigenous communities that have been involved with local environments and ecosystems before colonialism and western science."
"Much of western science is rooted in colonialism, white supremacy and patriarchy, and these power structures continue to permeate our scientific culture," the scientists argued. "Here, we discuss one crucial way to address this history and make EEB more inclusive for marginalized communities: our choice of scientific terminology."
Researchers involved in the project include academics from Harvard, Princeton, and the University of California.
"Our team of authors includes graduate students, staff, postdoctoral scholars, and assistant professors employed across historically white and minority-serving institutions in the USA and Canada, and several authors have personal ties to other countries," the group's journal stated.
The project's authors hold a "shared interest in calling attention to the power of language and the ways it can cause harm."
According to University of British Columbia assistant professor Dr. Kaitlyn Gaynor, the project started as a Twitter conversation among a few researchers discussing potentially harmful terminology.
"We reached out to different networks in ecology and evolution that were focused on increasing inclusion and equity in the field to rally support for one very specific action — revising terminology that might be harmful to certain people, particularly those from groups historically and currently excluded from science," Gaynor stated, according to a UBC press release.
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