Some weeks, I get maybe 100 letters or more from readers. These are folks who find ThinkGlink.com through Google, or my syndicated weekly newspaper column, or who get the weekly newsletter. Either way, they have questions about buying, selling, fixing up and financing their property. I try to help them each week with my column, and the one I write with real estate attorney Sam Tamkin, Ask The Lawyer.
From time-to-time, I get questions from readers about the process of writing a column. This question came in yesterday:
Q: I’m just curious. In a recent column, you referred to a broker as a “she” (her)? Was that personal knowledge or just an assumption?
Generally speaking, sometimes I can tell whether my correspondent is a male or female from the name that comes with the email (which I never include in the Q&A). And, sometimes I can tell by how the person refers to him or herself. (Believe it or not, some writers refer to themselves in the third person when writing me a letter – which I think is sort of strange.)
If I can’t tell by clues in the email or on the return address (if the letter I use comes by way of snail mail rather than email), then I’ll put in a preposition. I often switch between “he” and “she” because frankly, it feels strange to refer to a person as an “it.”
I could follow certain style books (like the AP or New York Times stylebooks) and always refer to people as “he” unless I know different. However, so many real estate agents and brokers are female that it doesn’t feel fair to always say “he.” So, I mix it up.
I enjoy writing about the process of creating my columns each week. If you have other questions, please email me at [email protected] and I’ll see if I can come up with some answers.