Chapter 4-2-4: "He" or "she" versus "they"
As the Oxford Dictionary notes, "[t]here are no personal pronouns that can refer to someone (as opposed to something) without identifying whether that person is male or female."
So, how would you handle the following sentences?
If your child is experiencing a fever, _________ should be taken to the hospital.
A professor must prepare ________ lessons every day.
In the past, the masculine was simply used:
If your child is experiencing a fever, he should be taken to the hospital.
A professor must prepare his lessons every day.
However, some people object to this, claiming that it is sexist. Other people find it acceptable.
For those authors that seek to create a "gender neutral" situation, it is not recommended to use "he or she" or "him or her" if this construction will be used more than one time in the text.
Instead, the Oxford Dictionary advises that "you can use the plural pronouns ‘they’, ‘them’, ‘their’ etc., despite the fact that, technically, they are referring back to a singular noun." Here are the earlier examples, modified:
If your child is experiencing a fever, they should be taken to the hospital.
A professor must prepare their lessons every day.
Some people have lived through their entire lives without experiencing this formulation and, as a result, they are uncomfortable with this structure.