The literary problem is this: "he" is commonly used as an indefinite pronoun to refer to both sexes, he and she. If we attempt to avoid the implied denial of the existence of women this usage encompasses, we are asked to decide, instead, to choose whether to write he/she, or she/he, or one, or to alternate he and she, or to use some other, invented (but not widely used) word.
But actually there's a way around those awkward alternate usages. We're already doing it, and some of our greatest writers have done it too. Let's consider the pronouns they, their, and them, as being singular or plural, as in “Someone left their book on the table.”
I accidentally came across this usage in Webster’s Dictionary under the word "they." According to this source, long before the use of the problematic, generic "he" came to be understood to be sexist,
"the pronouns they, their, and them were used in educated speech and in all but the most formal writing to refer to indefinite pronouns and to singular nouns of general personal reference, probably because such nouns are often not felt to be exclusively singular."For example, we might say "If anyone calls, tell them I’ll be back at six." Or, "Everyone began looking for their books at once." In fact, though, Webster's continues,
"Shakespeare, Swift, Shelley, Scott, and Dickens, as well as many other English and American writers, have used they and its forms to refer to singular antecedents. Although rejected as ungrammatical by some usage critics, this use of they, their, and them is increasing in all but the most conservatively edited American English."I found an additional reference under the word "their":
“2. used after an indefinite singular antecedent in place of the definite form his or hers. Someone left their book on the table.”And so let us adopt this usage, even in "the most formal writing." The English language has always been very adaptable. It's our language. Let's adapt it to reflect our best nature. I hope that this can be a step toward resolving at least one problem women are faced with in the continuing struggle for equal rights.