My English teachers always said to use the masculine pronoun "he" by default because, well, that's just what they told me to do. I hope they have since retired, because "he" is starting to get the heave-ho in favor of "she." And how.
Three university researchers scanned nearly 1.2 million texts in the Google Books archive to study the use of gender-related pronouns between 1900 and 2008. The study concludes the "he-she" gap in books has narrowed considerably since the 1960s. "She" is booking to the front of the literary line and she's not looking back. She will no longer be confined to female-oriented writing scenarios. She's letting "her" and "herself" cut in line, too. Here she comes, and there she goes.
But what about the workplace? Is "she" overtaking many a hypothetical example in memos, PowerPoint presentations, press releases, and reports? Does workplace writing track with the trends in literary writing?
The workplace version of the "he-she" pronoun usage study doesn't exist yet, but it would be fascinating to read. In my years of intrepid press release-reading experience, I find PR people are using more "she"s than "he"s in the hypothetical sense these days to describe new products. Personally, I'm floating between genders in my own writing now, depending on the context and how much I feel like sticking it to my high school English teachers. But my study of one proves nothing. Maybe this post is simply an excuse to include a few of my favorite she-songs? Hey, it's August, she wants what she wants, she works hard for no money, and it's her blog. So, there.