Here in the Slavic world, one may envy the English language for the lack of problems with feminitives. Indeed, in English most professions, occupations, and titles (and, for that matter, nearly all other common nouns) are gender neutral.
Moreover, wherever there were any traces of gender in the titles, the most feminist thing to do is to remove them.
➡️ Flight AttendantMaid
However, even in English it's not always that simple. Let's consider the person leading a board or a committee.
Traditionally, the title was — and often still is — "Chairman."
In the past, most people in such positions actually were men. Fortunately, as the society moves forward, we gradually embrace leadership based on merits rather than on one's gender. So, how do we call a woman in this position?
The best solution, just like with flight attendands, is to use a gender-neutral title: chairperson
or simply chair
(the same is true for an ombudsperson
). Interestingly, some people seem to perceive these terms as "not manly enough;" in India, for instance, a chairperson
is usually a woman, while a man would still be a chairman
You might think to yourself: yeah, India is just some backward, overly traditional country, but in forward-thinking western democracies they surely have this sorted out. Well, not really. Again, this is an official title enshrined in charters, statutes, ordinances, regulations, and laws; each organization abides by different ones, and they are very slow to change. As a result, if you go to the US Senate's website
, you'll find both Chairs (heads of the political parties' conferences and committees) and Chairmen (heads of Standing Committees; Chairman/Chairwoman in the singular).
And here is a real example from a meeting in Ukraine: two ladies, Hanna and Natalia, landed in the same panel discussion. Apparently, the organizers followed the logic of the US Senate, which makes one of the ladies a chairwoman
, and the other a chairperson
. P. S.
One more important notice: whenever possible, please avoid using the second person (like the word "you" and the associated grammar) when addressing chairpersons. Learn more here