The author observes in the four countries of Northern Francophonie mostly convergent linguistic policies in connection with what one generally called lexical feminization, i.e. the way to designate women in the exercise of their profession. The central arguments of the position is that it is advisable to ensure visibility for women and to respect their identity. The author however finds clear divergences with regards to syntactic feminization, i.e. the way in which to indicate mixed sets, comprising men and women.

Partisans of syntactic feminization think that the male substantives are interpreted as referring preferentially to men and thus occult the place which women hold and can hold in our socities. A non sexist writing should consequently avoid male terms (les policiers), challenging their generic character, and prefer to them either doublets (les policiers et les policières), or expressions with brackets or indents (les policier-e-s), or of the generic terms (la police), or to resort to nominalizations, passives, impersonal phrases, etc.

It seems however that a systematic concern to avoid the generic male words shows a complexification of the tasks of writing for all. It is doubtful that this complexification is within the range of various socioculturels traits which may have difficult relationship with language and in particular with writing.

Various experimental researches presented in this article tried to determine the parameters of the problem denounced by partisans of non sexist syntax, and tried to identify under which conditions male words are interpreted as mixed meanings including women (interpretation known as inclusive) or referring to males exclusively (exclusive interpretation). It comes out from research that the inclusive or exclusive character of interpretation is a function initially of extra-linguistic facts such as the proportion of women present in the indicated category or the stereotypes. When the author subjects to interpretation terms indicating sexually balanced sets (for example teenagers), the deficits of mixed interpretation are small, and not always with to the detriment of women. The author also analyzes the role of linguistic characteristics of the terms subjected to interpretation : generic vs specific, epicene vs variable, singular vs plural.

The article concludes with various recommendations for linguistic policy.