Traditionally, the form -man was combined with other words to create a term denoting an occupation or role, as in fireman, layman, chairman, and freshman. As the role of women in society has changed, with the result that women are now more likely to be in roles previously held exclusively by men, many of these terms ending in -man have been challenged as sexist and out of date. As a result, there has been a gradual shift away from -man compounds except where referring to a specific male person. Alternative gender-neutral terms are used, for example firefighter and fresher, and new ones which only a few decades ago seemed odd or awkward today seem unexceptionable: chair/chairperson, layperson, and sportsperson.
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