Why do we say 'chairman' for men and 'chairperson' for women? Why don't we use 'chairperson' for both?

It's a neutral word a single word can used for both.

Also, why do we use 'man-made' environment? Why don't we use 'human-made' instead?

  • Excellent observation. about 'chairperson' and 'man-made'. – Mitch Nov 16 '18 at 15:04
  • deleted 'editorial' question in original: "Why do we neglect females and other genders? They play an equal role in the world." This is an important motivation for the language question but really should be avoided in answers to keep it as opinion-free as possible. – Mitch Nov 16 '18 at 15:07
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    We do use chairperson for both men and women. That's why it was introduced, in order to apply to both, equally. A role that is called a "chairperson" for a woman will still be called a "chairperson" for her successor, if he's a man, and vice versa, and every other combination. A role that is called a "chairman" for a man will be called a "chairwomen" for his successor if she's a woman. Etc. But I see more and more just dropping the second morpheme and calling it a "chair". – Dan Bron Nov 16 '18 at 15:17
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    'Human' has the word 'man' in it. If society in general wishes to completely dissociate itself from the development of language, it will have to re-invent language altogether, from concept. – Nigel J Nov 16 '18 at 15:55
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    @NigelJ: {mega applause} "Person" won't work, either: (horrors) it's got "son" in it! Etymology of "human": This is in part from PIE *(dh)ghomon-, literally "earthling, earthly being," as opposed to the gods (from root *dhghem- "earth") (as per etymon online) – Wordster Nov 16 '18 at 16:11

'Chairman,' 'chairwoman,' and 'chairperson' are all acceptable and all in common use. Chairperson is not restricted to use with women, and the AP Stylebook (2013) recommends against it. It instead suggests 'Chairman' or 'Chairwoman' in all cases, except where 'Chairperson' is a person's official title.

Neither Merriam-Webster nor the AP Stylebook accept 'human-made' as an alternative to 'man-made,' but 'man-made' does not suffer from the same gendering problem as 'chairman' and 'chairwoman.' 'Man' originally meant just any person, and though the use of man alone to mean just any person is obsolete, the meaning persists in a number of words. The OED gives two examples that describe both Adam and Eve as men.

C1175 (OE) Homily (Bodl. 343) in S. Irvine Old Eng. Homilies (1993) 138 He [sc. the Devil] þam ereste men Adam and Euam..forcostode and biswaac.

1597 Bp. J. King Lect. Ionas xxxvi. 481 The Lord had but one paire of men in paradise.

For that reason I personally don't have a problem using 'man-made,' but one could use 'artificial,' 'synthetic,' or 'simulated' depending on the context to avoid the term.

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