14 Politically Correct Job Titles

politically correct job titlesBy Debra Auerbach

Order a sandwich at Subway, and you'll be assisted by one of their "sandwich artists." When perusing the Apple store for a computer or iPad, be sure to ask a "specialist" or "genius" for help.

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Curious to know whether your title is up-to-date or outdated?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:

  1. Old: barman/barmaid; New: bartender or mixologist

  2. Old: chairman; New: chairperson

  3. Old: fireman; New: firefighter

  4. Old: fisherman; New: fisher

  5. Old: garbage man; New: trash collector

  6. Old: nurseryman; New: nursery worker

  7. 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.)

  8. Old: salesman/saleswoman; New: sales worker or sales associate

  9. Old: seamstress; New: sewing machine operator

  10. Old: steward/stewardess; New: flight attendant

  11. Old: secretary; New: administrative assistant

  12. Old: waiter/waitress; New: server

  13. Old: hairdresser; New: stylist

  14. 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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The only gender-specific jobs I am aware of are wet nurse and sperm donor. :-)

December 15 2011 at 5:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

To be completely PC, it is necessary to be both gender and species neutral. For that reason, my business letter salutation is Gentlebeings.

December 15 2011 at 4:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Someone got upset with me the other day for referring to my much loved cleaning lady as a "cleaning lady". What am I supposed to call her? She cleans my house; she's a cleaning lady! Of course, they had no response except, "Well, I'm not sure, but it doesn't sound right to refer to her as a cleaning lady." Me being the smart ass that I am asked, "Well, is it acceptable to call her my servant then?" Ok, I know totally not PC and wrong, but I had to show how ridiculous this person was being.

December 15 2011 at 4:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to wtfyoutalkingabout's comment

Its probably "Domestic Engineer" or something.

December 15 2011 at 5:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


December 15 2011 at 5:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

hookers are noe genital technicians
their pimps are now asset management

December 15 2011 at 2:16 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to makkimak's comment

I think I peed a little when I read your comments! OMG, can't stop laughing!!!

December 15 2011 at 4:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

A seamstress is not a sewing machine operator, A seamstress is someone who can lay fabric, mark patterns, cut, assembly and make cloths, a sewing machine operator is a mindlees indvidual who sits on ther ass for 8 hours a day and sews. Get it right. ass holes who dont know what they are talking about.

December 15 2011 at 2:15 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to casadediablo3's comment

What about the ones that hand stitch items? My grandmother was a seamstress, designing, hand-embroidering, cutting and sewing clothing (particularly wedding dresses and evening gowns). I would by no means consider her a sewing machine operator. Save that term for the poor women spending 15 hours a day in a sweat shop.

December 15 2011 at 4:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


December 15 2011 at 1:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

So what now, a mailman is a person-person?

December 15 2011 at 1:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Eddy's comment

Mailman is: "Residential Postal Delivery Service Individual." Obviously more politically correct. Compare the syllables! Even the abbreviation, RPDSI, has more syllables than "mailman."

December 15 2011 at 2:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Being politically correct means that you can pick up a turd by the clean end.

We now spend so much time making sure that we don't hurt somebodies feelings that nothing is getting accomplished.

December 15 2011 at 1:04 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply


December 15 2011 at 12:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I like the newer terms. I like being able to focus on the job rather than having to assess gender. The job is the point, not whats between their legs. If other people want to stick with old terms it doesn't both me as long as they are accurate (aka get the gender of the person they are talking about correct), but for my own personal use I prefer the newer terms.Factual accuracy and political correctness are not the same thing. Also, with the exception of meteorologist and administrative assistant, I think the newer terms are cognitively easier, especially now that women and men are increasing in numbers in all professions. Face it, stylist is easier to say than hair dresser. Its a whole syllable shorter. But very few people are going to freak if you say hair dresser. You just sound a bit more old fashioned linguistically.That's all.

December 15 2011 at 12:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to nixxle1's comment

Soooo, don't assess the gender. This whole relevancy thing is idiotic. Some of the terms she listed aren't even accurate in their equivalence - such as weatherman to meteorologist. Not all weathermen are meteorologists, though most are as it's becoming more of a requirement to get the job. A secretary and and administrative assistant generally have some overlap in duties, but traditionally are not the same position. Just think what good people could accomplish if we weren't wasting so much energy (and money) on being PC.

December 15 2011 at 1:15 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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