A council has decided it is time to drop the word ‘chairman’ despite protests from a female member.
The North York Moors National Park authority will now always refer to its chairman, Cllr Jim Bailey, as the ‘chair’ of the council following its meeting today.
However, Cllr Caroline Patmore spoke out against the move, saying that chairman was perfectly fine as a term.
The debate sparked as councillors were asked to approve its financial regulations for the coming year.
During the discussion, Cllr Patmore asked the report’s author, officer Richard Smith, why that the word ‘man’ had been removed from ‘chairman’ in the final version of the committee report.
She said: “I propose that our representative is called the chairman. If you must take out the man bit could you put ‘person’ in there?”
Mr Smith said the change had been made after he had been asked on a previous occasion to use chair, rather than chairman.
He said: “After consideration, the consensus we got was that chair was better.”
Cllr Patmore responded: “I would like to see chairman [used in the reports].”
The current chairman, Cllr Jim Bailey, said he had no strong preference either way and opened it up for members to decide.
Cllr Jeremy Walker said: “My language instincts are with Cllr Patmore and I think it is a shame it has become subject to political correctness but, that said, I think it is now generally accepted that chairman is a term is a bit dated.
“The risk is that it conveys an impression of being a bit behind the times and not moving with the way gender neutral thinking is going.”
Cllr Patmore tabled a motion that the chairman of the authority is referred to as either “Mister chairman or Madame chairman” in the future.
However, despite gaining the support of the majority of female councillors present, the motion was defeated.