AP Style holds that women should receive the same treatment as men in all areas of coverage. Physical descriptions, sexist references, demeaning stereotypes and condescending phrases should not be used.
To cite some examples, this means that:
- Copy should not assume maleness when both sexes are involved, as in “Jackson told newsmen” or in “the taxpayer…he” when it easily can be said Jackson “told reporters or taxpayers…they.”
- Copy should not express surprise that an attractive woman can be professionally accomplished, as in, “Mary Smith doesn’t look that part, but she’s an authority on…”
- Copy should not gratuitiously mention family relationships when there is no relevance to the subject as in: “Golda Meir, a doughty grandmother, told the Egyptians today…”
- Use the same standards for men and women in deciding whether to include specific mention of personal appearance or marital and family situation.
In other words, treatment of the sexes should be evenhanded and free of assumptions and stereotypes. This does not mean that valid and acceptable words such as “mankind” or “humanity” cannot be used. They are proper.