chair vs. chairman

Anita Vasavada vasavada at wsu.edu
Mon Oct 15 03:51:53 EST 2001


Women-in-bio newsgroup:

I would like to get your opinions on the general acceptance of the words
“chair” vs. “chairman” (for the head of a department or program).  I
personally find the word “chairman” irritating—why the need to point out
that the chairman is a man?—and feel “chair” is much more appropriate.
My institution always uses the gender-neutral term chair.  But
occasionally I get mail from one of my previous institutions, or a
national professional organization, that has a “message from the
chairman”, or a list of chairmen of a specific type of academic program
(some of whom happen to be women).

I am often tempted to write in to these organizations and point this
out.  However I wonder:  Am I over-reacting?  Is the word “chairman”
generally accepted to mean both men and women?  Should I avoid making a
fuss over a minor issue and pick different battles to fight (especially
if it means irritating a “big shot” in the field)?

I’d love to hear your opinions—it will help me decide whether to bring
up these issues.

Thanks,
Anita Vasavada


--
Anita Vasavada, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Departments of Biological Systems Engineering and VCAPP
Washington State University
Pullman, WA  99164-6120
voice:  (509) 335-7533
fax:  (509) 335-4650
vasavada at wsu.edu





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