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Should the common usage "Webmasters" be gender neutered into a separate webmistresses to describe female web site admin professionals?

Specifically why do we really need a term like web mistresses? Is it due to PC standards that say you shouldn't refer to a woman by a inherently male term?

I like to think that common usage comes from the way people prefer to use English. So if they stick to the term Webmaster, they are not necessarily doing so due to an inherent byass towards a male term.

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I have fixed a few typos, but I absolutely had to leave "inherent byass", it's too cool a word. (^_^) – RegDwigнt Oct 26 '10 at 9:16
Using webmistress in addition to webmaster is the opposite of becoming gender neutral. – Kosmonaut Oct 26 '10 at 13:30
@RegDwight, why thankyou. @Kosmonaut why do you say that, I would actually argue the opposite where a second word is introduced soley to counter the gender byass of the first word. – Anonymous Type Oct 26 '10 at 21:22
I would have thought of the term "master" being more racist than sexist. – Dan Feb 17 '11 at 2:35
@user744, why would you say that? Master is no more inherently racist than describing the colour of someones skin is racist. – Anonymous Type Feb 20 '11 at 21:45
up vote 4 down vote accepted

There is a strong tendency in recent English to eliminate gender-specific words. For example, most female actors do not want to be called 'actresses' (though there are a few that do want to).

For this reason, and because of Claudiu's point as well, I would suggest not coining any new words in "-mistress".

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Webmaster, to me, can mean a person of any sex. Additionally, 'mistress' has the connotation to me of an S&M mistress, or a concubine, etc., not of a female master, so saying Webmistress sounds pretty strange to me.

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The British organisation that used to be called the National Union of Schoolmasters and Mistresses has changed its name to the National Union of Schoolmasters / Association of Women Teachers, presumably for this reason. – Brian Hooper Oct 26 '10 at 19:51
@Brian how interesting. – Anonymous Type Oct 26 '10 at 21:25
@Brian: You may be confusing the NASUWT with the ATL, formerly called the Assistant Masters and Mistresses Association after the merger of the Association of Assistant Mistresses and the Association of Assistant Masters in Secondary Schools – Henry Apr 27 '12 at 13:54

In my personal experience working at various web companies, both males and females were referred to as webmasters. Regardless of whether 'webmaster' has gender connotations, the term is becoming obsolete, so this will probably end up a moot point over time.

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"the term is becoming obsolete": could you provide some evidence of this? – Steve Melnikoff Oct 26 '10 at 10:41

As Kosmonaut said, "webmistress" is the complete opposite of gender neutral.

There is an actual trend toward gender neutrality in occupational terms: flight attendant instead of stewardess, mail carrier instead of postman, that sort of thing. There is also some tendency toward avoiding the -ress form of some occupations; actor for both genders instead of actor/actress is the most prominent example, but people do still use actress.

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"As the actress said to the bishop" wouldn't work so well otherwise. – Brian Hooper Oct 26 '10 at 19:52
no I disagree regarding your point of gender neutrality. Sure your examples are all correct, however those examples are for nouns that are already gender neutral, Webmaster is not. The usage of webmistress counterbalances, and would make it neutral, however I think your partially correct in alluding to the need for a new term that gets rid of the "master", and is therefore more inclusive. – Anonymous Type Oct 26 '10 at 21:28
@Anonymous Type: creating a new gender-specific term makes the language less gender-neutral, not more. Right now, "webmaster" can be used to refer to either a male or a female. If you decide that a "master" can't be female (whyever not?), and thus invent a need for the term "webmistress", then you've created a gender polarity where there didn't used to be one. – Marthaª Oct 26 '10 at 21:46
true interesting point. thanks for the explanation. – Anonymous Type Oct 27 '10 at 21:28

If you look at the International Webmasters Association website I think you'll find they're not an exclusive group.

The dictionary defines master as :

a person with the ability or power to use, control, or dispose of something:

a person eminently skilled in something, as an occupation art, or science:

I think it's fairly clear that a webmaster is not a gendered term.

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