One deep-seated belief in writing, especially writing instruction, is that there is no place for identity and personal pronouns in pieces that are professional and academic. Students are taught this principle as early as elementary school. However, identity can be used in academic writing as a tool to emphasize credibility on certain topics and can shape writing, whether intentionally or not. Anyone’s writing can benefit from a bit of the author’s perspective, but there is an even deeper need for a diverse range of identities in academia. I intend to discuss how ‘objective’ papers are often read as if written by the stereotypical member of the field, which perpetuates these stereotypes further. This intersects with gender issues quite clearly in areas like Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) where the ‘default figure’ is usually male. As a rising academic, I hold a specific stake in the matter – even more so when it comes to gender issues, as I identify as non-binary and most initially perceive me as a woman. Though situations have improved greatly, it is still apparent that women and other less conventional gender identities do not have enough voice and presence in STEM. I believe that current academics, as well as the instructors of the next generation, have an opportunity to change how identity is used and viewed in academic writing. These motivators drive me to ask the question: how might the normalization of diverse identities in academic writing improve gender disparities in STEM fields?
Department, Program, or Center
Department of Computing Security (GCCIS)
RIT – Main Campus
Freeman, Raina, "I am Not a White Man in a Labcoat: The Normalization of Identity in Academic Writing" (2023). Accessed from
2023 recipient of the Stan McKenzie Endowed Writing Award