'Manpower' becomes 'human effort' as city council bans gender-specific words

There'll be no 'manpower' in Berkeley anymore after the city council voted to replace gender-specific words with neutral terms, in a bid to become more inclusive.

That means, for example, that workers will drop into 'maintenance holes' instead of 'manholes' and 'manpower' will become 'human effort' after the city council unanimously passed the measure to replace more than two dozen commonly used terms.

The changes, which will cost around $600, will take place in autumn and will see the removal of gender-specific words from all city forms.

Lists of old words and their replacements will be posted at public libraries and the council chambers around the Californian city.

The change will also see the replacement of all gender-specific pronouns such as 'he' and 'she' and see them swapped with 'they' and 'them'.

Nothing will be 'manmade' in the city but 'human-made' and university students will join 'collegiate Greek system residences' rather than fraternities and sororities.

Some of the updated terms. Credit: Berkeley City Counci/AP

The move has been met with both praise and scorn, with some saying it's about time for the change and others criticising the council, suggesting the money could be better spent elsewhere.

Council member Rigel Robinson said it was time to change a municipal code that makes it sound like "men are the only ones that exist in entire industries or that men are the only ones on city government."

"As society and our cultures become more aware about issues of gender identity and gender expression, it’s important that our laws reflect that.

"Women and non-binary people are just as deserving of accurate representation."

Manholes will become maintenance holes in the city code. Credit: AP

On the other hand, Laramie Crocker, a Berkeley carpenter, said the changes just made him laugh.

"If you try to change the laws every time someone has a new opinion about something, it doesn’t make sense. It’s just a bad habit to get into," he said.

Instead he suggested city officials should focus on more pressing issues, like homelessness.

"Let’s figure out how to get homeless people housed and fed. He, she, they, it - they’re wasting my time."