By Debra Auerbach
Job titles have evolved over time for a variety of reasons. Some companies have infused creativity into their job titles as a way to elevate otherwise generic-sounding positions. Others have doled out inventive titles in lieu of promotions or pay raises. Common practice these days is for companies to steer clear of gender-specific job titles, or ones that have politically incorrect undertones, to avoid any chance of discrimination.
"A lot of companies have tried to refine titles to make them gender neutral, to show that gender is irrelevant to the performance of the job," says John Millikin, clinical professor at Arizona State University's W. P. Carey School of Business. "For example, changing postman to postal worker took the actual word 'man' out of the title. Others have tried to drop the feminine version and concentrate on using one term for both genders, such as using actor instead of both actress and actor."
Curious to know whether your title is up-to-date or outdated? Peruse this list of 14 antiquated job titles along with their politically correct replacements:
- Old: barman/barmaid; New: bartender or mixologist
- Old: chairman; New: chairperson
- Old: fireman; New: firefighter
- Old: fisherman; New: fisher
- Old: garbage man; New: trash collector
- Old: nurseryman; New: nursery worker
- Old: policeman; New: police officer or law enforcement officer (although Senior Product Developer Laurence Shatkin, Ph.D., at career publisher JIST Publishing points out that this revised title is slightly inaccurate, because not all police men or women are officers.)
- Old: salesman/saleswoman; New: sales worker or sales associate
- Old: seamstress; New: sewing machine operator
- Old: steward/stewardess; New: flight attendant
- Old: secretary; New: administrative assistant
- Old: waiter/waitress; New: server
- Old: hairdresser; New: stylist
- Old: weatherman; New: meteorologist
Want more? Check out these 13 unusual job titles.
Debra Auerbach is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com and its job blog, The Work Buzz. She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.
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