Written by Gavin Morrice on May 6th, 2013
Often in an application, you’ll want to display a clear, readable message back to the user about another user. e.g. “Sarah is a new member, why not send her a message?”
App developers often fall back on using gender-neutral pronouns because this saves them the trouble of having to write each message twice, once for each gender. So the above example is would be more commonly written as: “Sarah is a new member, why not send them a message?” In terms of creating a rich, and comfortable user experience, this solution isn’t optimal, but it’s understandable why so many applications do it—it saves time and effort (read “money”).
I encountered this issue on a client application we’re working on at the moment and decided to take a little time to write a reusable solution which would allow us to enhance the user-experience, while not adding too much time and code to the project. The solution is genderize, a really simple Rails gem that makes your Rails models gender—aware. It provides a bunch of helpful methods for gender-specific pronouns and abbreviations.