Usage and Grammar

Q. I’m in a quandary regarding gender pronouns. In an economics paper (on first-price auctions) that I am editing, the author has defined the actors in his proposition like this: “The female and male pronouns are used for weak and strong bidders, respectively.” Is there any exception where gender-biased language is allowed for ease of expression? What do you recommend?

A. You could ask the author whether this usage is conventional in his topic area, but regardless, you should point out that the implication would offend some readers. Suggest that he rethink his shorthand.