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chair vs. chairman

Linnea Ista lkista at unm.edu
Tue Oct 16 04:08:47 EST 2001

While I agree that the "chairman" thing is irritating, I think that it is
probably not worth making a big deal about in terms of getting other people
to agree with you.  The way I deal with it is to make sure that I use the
term I prefer without backing down.

Good luck!

Anita Vasavada wrote:

> 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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