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Chairperson vs. Chairman: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Published on November 24, 2023
Chairperson is a gender-neutral term for the leader of a group or organization, while Chairman specifically refers to a male leader of the same.

Key Differences

Chairperson and Chairman are terms used to designate the head or leader of an assembly, committee, board, or organization. While both play a pivotal leadership role, Chairperson is a gender-neutral term, whereas Chairman inherently implies a male leader.
Historically, the term Chairman was universally applied, regardless of the gender of the individual. However, as societal views evolved and the importance of gender inclusivity grew, Chairperson emerged as a more inclusive alternative.
Chairperson is widely adopted in modern professional and organizational settings to avoid gender biases. It emphasizes the role rather than the gender of the individual. On the other hand, Chairman remains in use, especially in more traditional settings or when the gender of the individual is specifically known to be male.
The transition from Chairman to Chairperson is part of a broader linguistic movement that seeks to promote gender-neutral language, especially in formal and professional settings. This movement also includes terms like "firefighter" instead of "fireman" and "police officer" instead of "policeman."
It's essential to be mindful of these terms' nuances. Opting for Chairperson can be seen as a gesture of inclusivity, whereas the use of Chairman might be more specific but could risk appearing outdated or non-inclusive in some contexts.

Comparison Chart

Gender Connotation

Implies a male leader.

Modern Usage

Widely accepted in contemporary settings.
Still used, especially in traditional contexts.


Emerged for gender inclusivity.
Historically universal, regardless of leader's gender.

Linguistic Movement

Part of the push for gender-neutral language.
Reflects traditional language usage.

Contextual Sensitivity

Preferred when gender is unspecified or irrelevant.
Used when it's known the leader is male or in older texts.

Chairperson and Chairman Definitions


A title emphasizing role rather than gender.
The organization prides itself on using the term chairperson.


Historically, a universal term for the leader of a committee.
The chairman from the 1950s was remembered for his strict rules.


An inclusive term for someone guiding discussions or sessions.
The conference's chairperson introduced the first speaker.


The chief male officer in some formal and traditional settings.
The chairman's word was final in the company.


A representative designated to preside over gatherings or meetings.
As the chairperson, she ensured everyone had a chance to speak.


A male individual heading an assembly or group.
The chairman gave his approval for the new project.


The foremost figure in a committee or board.
The chairperson of the board will give the keynote address.


The presiding officer of an assembly, meeting, committee, or board.


The head or leader of an organized group, irrespective of gender.
The chairperson led the meeting efficiently.


The administrative head of a department of instruction, as at a college.


A chairman or chairwoman.


To act as chairman of
Chaired the panel of experts.


A chairman or chairwoman, someone who presides over a meeting, board, etc.
She was the chairperson of the board and she presided over the meeting.


A person presiding over a meeting.


The officer who presides at the meetings of an organization; - same as chair{3} or chairman{1}, but used to achieve a sex-neutral register.


The head of a corporate or governmental board of directors, a committee, or other formal entity.


The officer who presides at the meetings of an organization;
Address your remarks to the chairperson


(historical) Someone whose job is to carry people in a portable chair, sedan chair, or similar conveyance.


To serve as chairman.


The presiding officer of a committee, or of a public or private meeting, or of any organized body.


One whose business it is to cary a chair or sedan.
Breaks watchmen's heads and chairmen's glasses.


The officer who presides at the meetings of an organization;
Address your remarks to the chairperson


Act or preside as chair, as of an academic department in a university;
She chaired the department for many years


A title used when the gender of the leader is known to be male.
He was elected as the new chairman of the committee.


The male presiding officer of a meeting or session.
The chairman ensured that the meeting ended on time.


Is Chairperson a modern term?

Yes, Chairperson emerged as a gender-inclusive alternative to Chairman in modern times.

Can a woman be called a Chairman?

Historically, yes. But it's more appropriate today to use Chairwoman or Chairperson for a female leader.

Can companies decide to use only Chairman irrespective of gender?

Companies can choose their preferred term, but using "Chairman" for all genders may seem non-inclusive to some.

Are there other gender-neutral alternatives?

Yes, some use "Chair" as a concise, gender-neutral option.

Is Chairperson always preferred over Chairman?

It depends on context. Chairperson is more inclusive, but Chairman is still valid, especially if the leader is male.

Why has Chairperson gained prominence?

The rise of gender-neutral language and inclusivity in workplaces has popularized the term.

Does every organization have a Chairperson or Chairman?

No, it depends on the organizational structure and naming conventions.

How should one address a female Chairperson?

"Madam Chairperson" or "Chairwoman" are appropriate.

Do all languages have gender-neutral titles like Chairperson?

No, gender-neutrality in titles varies by language and culture.

Can the terms be used interchangeably?

While similar, it's essential to consider gender implications and the desired level of formality.

Is the role of a Chairperson different from a Chairman?

No, the roles are functionally the same; only the titles differ.

Which term is more commonly used in international organizations?

Chairperson is often preferred for its inclusivity in international contexts.

Is Chairwoman a valid term?

Yes, Chairwoman is used when specifically referring to a female leader.

Is the term Chairperson politically correct?

Yes, it's considered a politically correct, gender-neutral alternative to Chairman.

Are these terms only used in corporate settings?

No, they can be used in any organized group, including non-profits, committees, and public bodies.

Are there instances where Chairman is the only appropriate term to use?

In some traditional settings or when referencing historical titles, "Chairman" may still be more appropriate.

Can a group have both a Chairperson and a Chairman?

Unlikely in the same context. One title would typically be chosen for clarity.

Do both terms have the same responsibilities?

Yes, both Chairperson and Chairman imply similar leadership roles and responsibilities.

How did the term Chairperson originate?

It emerged as societies sought more gender-inclusive language in professional settings.

Is "Chair" an abbreviation for both Chairperson and Chairman?

Yes, "Chair" can be a shortened, gender-neutral form for either term.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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