Male generic language impacts representation
Male generic language uses masculine pronouns to refer to anyone. When male generic language is used, people are far more likely to picture men instead of women. This results in a lack of mental and linguistic representation, which excludes women and limits women’s opportunities.
Close your eyes and picture an image of man discovering fire. I bet you pictured a caveman not a cavewoman despite the fact that the phrase “man discovered fire” is meant to mean that people discovered fire. This is an example of how male generic language impacts representation. Male generic language is using masculine pronouns when the person being referred to could be a man or woman. It is also using words such as businessman instead of the gender-neutral businessperson and mankind to refer to all people. Some people argue that the use of male generic language is not a problem because people know that it is meant to include both men and women. However, this has been proven not to be the case. Just as you most likely pictured a caveman discovering fire, studies have found that when male generic language is used people are far more likely to picture men. One study asked children to pick pictures for a textbook with titles such as “Urban Man” or “Urban Life”. When the titles included male generic language the kids almost always picked pictures of men, but when they were gender-neutral they picked pictures of both men and women. This lack of mental and linguistic representation excludes women and downplays women’s contribution to society.  It also limits women’s opportunities as seen by studies that have shown that women are less likely to pursue a job when the posting uses male generic language instead of gender-neutral language.
Throughout the history of English, the word "man" and words containing it ("mankind," "manpower") were used to refer to all human beings regardless of gender. Dictionaries like the Oxford English Dictionary, which trace the development of words throughout history, acknowledge that "man" means "human" or "person," not just "male individual." Since words like "mankind" have already been considered gender-neutral for centuries, they do not perpetuate any gendered stereotypes or gender roles. They simply refer to human individuals.
[P1] When male generic language is used, people are far more likely to picture men. [P2] This results in a lack of mental and linguistic representation, which excludes women and limits women’s opportunities.
Rejecting the premises
[Rejecting P2] Women aren't excluded since everyone knows that words like mankind represent all people.