In India, a male public official elected to chair a committee is still called Chairman, while a female official is nowadays called Chairperson. The term 'chairwoman' is never used, but a male official is never called 'chairperson' either. What is the global trend?
I cannot digest the use of both "chairman" and "chairperson", especially in the same institution, as in
the convener welcomed all chairmen and chairpersons on behalf of the planning forum
the Chairman for Public Works and the Chairperson for Town Planning attended the meeting
with the "chairperson" therefore being assumed to be female by default. I THINK ALL SUCH OFFICIALS OUGHT TO BE CALLED CHAIRPERSON not necessarily for perfect gender neutrality by itself (though it is certainly one aim) but for linguistic consistency while applying gender neutral terminology. What is the expert position on this matter?
Note: Merriam-Webster defines 'chairwoman' as a woman who serves as chairman, which is itself defined as a officer (not a man) who heads a committee or institution, while 'chairperson' is also assigned this very same meaning...
...but the way the word 'chairperson' is being used here, exclusively for women, will probably lead Indians to think that a 'female chairman' is a 'chairperson!'
Added by edit:
The Wikipedia article on 'chairman' suggests that this is by no means an issue unique to India, but occurs worldwide:
In his 1992 State of the Union address, then-U.S. President George H. W. Bush used "chairman" for men and "chair" for women. A 1994 Canadian study found the Toronto Star newspaper referring to most presiding men as "chairman", and to most presiding women as "chairperson" or as "chairwoman".
The Chronicle of Higher Education uses "chairman" for men and "chairperson" for women. An analysis of the British National Corpus found chairman used 1,142 times, chairperson 130 times and chairwoman 68 times. The National Association of Parliamentarians does not approve using "chairperson".
The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and United Press International all use "chairwoman" or "chairman" when referring to women, and forbid use of "chair" or of "chairperson" except in direct quotations. In World Schools Style debating, male chairs are called "Mr. Chairman" and female chairs are called "Madame Chair".
The FranklinCovey Style Guide for Business and Technical Communication, as well as the American Psychological Association style guide, advocate using "chair" or "chairperson", rather than "chairman".
The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style suggests that the gender-neutral forms are gaining ground. It advocates using "chair" to refer both to men and to women.
I found the following related question
but I think its focus is on whether the use of CHAIR as substitute for Chairman is appropriate, which is not quite what I would like to know.
So my question is whether routinely using both words -- 'chairman' for men and 'chairperson' for women -- is linguistically appropriate, since the gender neutral 'chairperson' has acquired female gender connotation (at least in India) as a consequence!