DEAR READERS: Most occupational and public office titles originated when only men performed these jobs. Today, women are involved in all occupations, making sex-labeled titles discriminatory.
Occupational titles should describe the job -- not the person doing the job. Some examples:
Forget "lady doctor" -- she is a doctor (who happens to be a woman).
No more "woman lawyer" -- she is a lawyer.
Forget "waitress" -- the correct form is waiter or server.
No more "meter maid" -- meter attendant is correct.
An "authoress" is simply an author.
A "housewife" is now properly called a homemaker.
Perhaps it won't surprise you that these updated terms come from "The Practical Guide to Non-Sexist Language," courtesy of the National Organization for Women in St. Louis, Mo.
While the titles "Miss" and "Mrs." originally were used to distinguish female children from adult women, the titles identify marital status: A "Mrs." is married, a "Miss" is not.
The dissatisfaction of many women with this labeling system led eventually to the use of "Ms." (The American Heritage Dictionary defines "Ms." as "a title of courtesy used before a woman's surname, without regard to her marital status.")
A woman's professional or academic title takes precedence over a social title: Chancellor Jane Roe, or Jane Roe, Ph.D., not Ms. Jane Roe.
And when writing a memorandum to one's office staff, it is correct to say, "Everyone is expected to do the (not his) job well."
Finally, as the guide notes, "Neither sex has a monopoly on jobs, with two exceptions: wet nurses and sperm donors."