Fostering an inclusive environment: names and pronouns

Macquarie University is committed to creating a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment for all students and staff.

Referring to people by the name and pronouns they determine for themselves is basic to human dignity. Being referred to by the wrong name and pronouns can be harmful to people, particularly transgender and gender-diverse people.

As Macquarie University students and staff, we are all responsible for creating an inclusive and respectful environment for all.

A pronoun is a word that refers to either the people talking (eg. I or you) or someone or something that is being talked about (eg. she, them, or this). In English, we assign a gender to pronouns to describe the person we are speaking about.

Gendered Pronoun examples
Feminine pronounsShe/her
Masculine pronounsHe/him
Gender-neutral pronounsThey/them

Some people may not use any pronouns and may choose to be referred to by their name

A person may change their pronouns for different reasons, including to affirm their gender, and so it is important that you listen and reflect the pronouns that the person uses to refer to themselves.

A person’s pronouns, and their preferred name, are an important part of an individual’s identity.

Consistently using a transgender or gender-expansive person’s pronouns and chosen name signals that the speaker is respecting and affirming the person’s gender identity.

Using a person’s pronouns and chosen name both models and sets expectations for the MQ community.

Using incorrect pronouns to refer to someone can be quite harmful even when accidental or unintentional. This can be referred to as misgendering.

When sharing pronouns you are:

  • Showing members of the LGBTQIA+ community that MQ is a safe place for them to be their authentic selves.
  • Expressing that you understand the importance of diversity and gender expression
  • Creating a safe space for people to share their authentic self with you.

You are welcome to share your pronouns in a way that is comfortable for you. Some options are included below:

Email Signature

First Name, Last Name | Pronouns

Zoom or Teams meetings

Change your display name to have in brackets pronouns e.g. Name (pronouns)

Introductions“Hi my name is … and my pronouns are … ”                                                     
Social MediaPutting your pronouns in your social media bio

Remember that it is never mandatory for someone to share their pronouns. Making it mandatory for someone to share their pronouns could unintentionally out someone or cause harm to someone who isn’t yet ready to come out.

If you accidentally use someone’s incorrect name or pronouns you should:

  1. Acknowledge your mistake without a fuss: Quietly or silently identify that you made a mistake before moving to step two.
  2. Apologise: share a brief apology, a quick ‘sorry’ before moving to step three – this will likely be sufficient depending on the situation.
  3. Correct yourself: use the correct pronouns or name.
  4. Move on: do not make a big deal of the mistake as this could make someone uncomfortable and makes the moment about your mistake, rather than about the impact it has had on the person.
  5. Learn from it: Make a mental note of your mistake, and the person’s correct name and pronouns, and try not to make a mistake again.

Putting these steps together in real-time might sound like: “Dominique? He is sitting over there. Sorry, I mean she is sitting over there.”

If you overhear someone else refer to someone using the incorrect name or pronouns:

  • Correct in the moment: “David said he is waiting for you” “Oh really, where did David say they are?”
  • Model the correct pronoun or name afterward: “Ok great. I will go and meet them now.”

If during this interaction the person continues to misgender the person, you might then need to:

  • Address it directly: “Thanks for letting me know. Also, just so you are aware, David uses they/them pronouns.”
  • Report it: If when you correct someone, they refuse to use the person’s pronouns then you may need to report this behaviour using the Wellbeing CARE Report.

If someone corrects you when you misgender someone:

  1. Welcome the correction: thank the person for bringing this to your attention.
  2. Apologise: share a brief apology. A quick ‘sorry’ before moving to step three may be sufficient, depending on the situation.
  3. Correct yourself: use the correct pronouns or name moving forward.
  4. Move on: do not make a big deal of the mistake.
  5. Learn from it: Make a mental note of your mistake and the person’s correct name and pronouns and try not to make a mistake again.

Putting these steps together in real-time might sound like: “Thank you, yes, sorry, I mean they are waiting for you over there.”

Yes, it is considered grammatically correct to use ‘they’ as a singular pronoun. We use it all the time without thinking about it! For example, if someone left their bubble tea behind in the food court, you would ask, “who left their bubble tea in the food court?”

There are a few ways for staff and students to update their pronouns and preferred names on different platforms!

For students
For staff
  • Display your pronouns publicly in Workday:
    Log into Workday, search for Change Public Profile Preferences in the Search box, then update your settings to Show to all. If you choose to display your Pronoun, it will display on your worker profile under your name and on the public profile card.
  • How to add pronouns in Microsoft Teams - a workaround 
  • Display pronouns on your Zoom account:
    Log into your MQ Zoom and edit your Pronouns under your Profile. You can select how you would like to share your pronouns, whether to always share in meetings, or be asked every time after joining meetings.
  • Update your pronouns in LinkedIn:
    Log into your LinkedIn Account, go to View Profile and select Edit. Choose your pronouns or enter your custom pronouns.