Translation:I suoi pantaloni
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"Is it the case that the gender of the pronoun only refers to the noun and not the "possessor"of the noun (if that makes any sense)?"
Because of this you can't tell the difference between his or her in Italian. Usually it should be clear from the context which one is meant but Duolingo's sentences don't have a broader context. Instead they accept both his and her on the English translation of every sentence like this... (Even if only one of them is given as the correct translation they still accept both as correct. Or they should. Report it if you find otherwise.)
In real life Italian, if you can't tell from the context whether "i suoi pantaloni" means his pants or her pants, you should use the possessive form of di instead ie: 'i pantaloni di lui' or 'i pantaloni di lei' or 'i pantaloni della donna' etc
Yes, unfortunately it is a problem of interpretation, In the UK 'her pants' could be either singular or plural. Viz: 'Her many pants are in her wardrobe. Plural. ( I was going to write '...in her draws.' but that would have sparked a measure of hilarity.) otherwise, 'She is wearing a nice pair of pants today. Singular