It's straightforward to refer to a "craftsperson" instead of a "craftsman" if one doesn't want to imply a gender. But "craftspersonship", "sportspersonship", and the like seem pretty cumbersome. Is there a more elegant alternative?
You could simply drop the dressing and go with "craft". The word is already used this way, parallel to the word "skill". It is generally unambiguous whether one is using "craft" in the sense of a set of skills, or in the sense of the quantity of those skills one has developed.
For the use "fine craftsmanship", I like the earlier offering of "finely crafted".
Yes, there is: realizing that "craftsmanship" is gender-neutral. People who think it is not should take it up with themselves, not the word.
If I see discrimination where there is none, the root of the problem is myself and not the language. It is also a textbook example of an etymological fallacy.
Craftsmanship implies "man" about as much as woman does.
Consider the terms artisan and artisanal. From en.wiktionary, artisan means “A skilled manual worker who uses tools and machinery in a particular craft”, while artisanal has senses including “Of or pertaining to artisans or the work of artisans” and “Involving skilled work, with comparatively little reliance on machinery”.
As a parallel to the craftsman/craftsmanship or craftsperson/craftspersonship pairs mentioned in the question and in some answers, we have artisan/artisanship.
From en.wiktionary, artisanship means “The state or quality associated with being an artisan”; thus, it denotes working in a skilled manner.
Oxforddictionaries.com gives the following definition and two examples for artisanship:
Skill in a particular craft:
‘pieces of jewelry which testify to the high artisanship of these ancient people’
‘a heritage of exquisite artisanship’
Note: a pleasing and workable gender-neutral alternative to “sportsmanship” seems less available. Interestingly, Google ngrams for sportsmanship, sportswomanship, sportspersonship (or, more clearly, for sportswomanship,sportspersonship) shows that sportspersonship is used far more frequently than is sportswomanship.
There are potentially infinite gender-neutral alternatives to craftsmanship.
You could say that an item was "well-crafted", or if you have to refer to the specific quality of its well-craftedness, then you could stay general with a word like "quality" or "artistry" or you could be more specific. If it was a car, you could talk about its "engineering" or its "design", etc. In other words, there should be a term associated with the specific craft.
While "craftsmanship" was never intended to be a gendered word, it does focus exclusively on the works of the human race. When you know the race that crafted a particular item.
"All craftsmanship is of the finest quality."
"All wares were crafted with the utmost skill."
"This is good shit, esse."
Admittedly, the feel isn't quite the same, but if you keep at it, I'm sure you can assemble passable PC diction.
As @Marc suggested in a comment on @jwpat7 's answer, "artisanship" fits the bill quite nicely. "Artisan" is a gender-neutral term, and "artisanship" is defined in the OED as "Skill in a particular craft".
While it doesn't include the sub-definition that craftsmanship does ("The quality of design and work shown in something made by hand; artistry"), I think it's perfectly acceptable to use artisanship in the same way, i.e. "The necklace she made exhibits exquisite artisanship", and I think most audiences would understand the connotation to be the same (except without any potential gender bias).
Skill in a particular craft: pieces of jewelry which testify to the high artisanship of these ancient people a heritage of exquisite artisanship
In the interest of less prescriptivism and more variety, let's consider a few possible alternative suffixes to -manship that might work (personal favorites in bold):
- itude (craftitude, sportitude, penitude)
- osity (craftosity, sportosity, penosity)
- iness (craftiness, sportiness, peniness)
- ability (craftability, sportability, penability)
- aciousness (craftaciousness, sportaciousness, penaciousness)
- acity (craftacity, sportacity, penacity)
Feel free to add your own!
There is a substantial difference between the word 'craftsman' and the word 'craftsmanship.'
Let's look at some typical usage scenarios:
"He is a good craftsman." - sounds right.
"She is a good craftsman." - sounds wrong.
Clearly, these two show that there is an implied gender in the word.
"Her work displays good craftsmanship."
"The carving's craftsmanship was obvious."
The word 'craftsmanship' applies not to a human as a label, but to an object or action in recognition of some property. It means that said work has some property that would indicate the work of a skilled craftsman. This could be seen as a very faint gender implication, but the abstract nature of it makes it rather negligible, and it is applied not to the target of the word, but to an idealized image of what a craftsman is like.
There are alternatives for sure, but there is no real need to replace it.
Unless we have evidence of a very recent evolution of the word to be gender-biased, the dictionary entries below are evidence that craftsmanship is gender-neutral, and even species-neutral, in standard American English, and (given the lag/conservatism of dictionaries) has been for some years. (Note that this is not mere oversight, the same dictionaries are happy to point out when a word implies male or female.)
- Skill in a particular craft
- The quality of design and work shown in something made by hand; artistry:
skill in an occupation or trade
- the skill involved in making something beautiful or practical using your hands.
- the beautiful or impressive quality of something that has been made using a lot of skill
The same is not true of sportsmanship which some dictionaries define in a gender-neutral way, but some connect to 'sportsman', which is commonly defined as a man or 'particularly' a man. However, the times they are a changin': a Google search for women's event sportsmanship shows 'sportsmanship' being widely and publicly used in a gender-neutral way, so the dictionaries just haven't caught up with current usage.
If there is a systematic way to deal with such words instead of case-by-case, I don't know it.
Given the degree of controversy about the -man- component of craftsmanship in the comments here, it seems worth looking for alternatives that a) remain centred on the craft aspect, b) avoid the likelihood of entanglements connected with sexual politics, and c) still sound reasonably natural and unforced.
Accordingly, I suggest these possible substitutes for craftsmanship:
Crafting skill, crafting ability and crafting virtuosity.
Similar solutions also work for the other terms the OP mentioned — for instance, for sportsmanship:
Sporting gallantry and sporting fairness;
Skill with the pen, beautiful handwriting, skilful calligraphy and chirography.
Precision. Skill. Care. Depending on the context, I'm sure synonyms or near-synonyms can be found which dodge the issue.
If you feel the issue is worth dodging. Personally, I'd rather fix the interpretation of existing language. Some of my fraternity brothers are female, and we made a very deliberate decision to change the meaning of "brother" in this context rather than trying to create either a new term or separate-but-equal terminology.
After some research, I have found the most closely relevant terms:
- Craftworker - "Someone who does craftwork. Craftwork: work usually done by hand that exhibits artistry and individuality". (I like it more than -'person', but not sure how widely accepted this is as a legitimate word)
- Artisan - "A worker in a skilled trade, especially one that involves making things by hand."
- Artificer - "A skilled craftsman or inventor."