"A man and his son are involved in a road accident. They are taken to hospital. The doctor takes one look at the boy and cries out, "My son!" What's the explanation?"I should probably have scratched my head for a few moments out of politeness (also, that medicated shampoo really isn't working) before saying, "What needs explaining? It's her son." Most people under fifty would say something similar, but this was a genuine riddle for my friend's generation, who grew up when professionals were always assumed to be male.
Terms such as 'woman doctor' and 'male nurse' were useful when some people had trouble imagining such things, but they are hardly necessary now and are rapidly falling out of fashion. The only such phrase that has any currency in the 21st Century is 'male prostitute', since this refers to an industry where the gender of the service provider will always be important to the customer and can crucially affect the nature of the service provided.
Otherwise, the de-gendering of language has been moving apace, starting with the replacement of '-man' with '-person'. You can argue all you want that 'man' also means 'human person of either sex', but in English the word will always imply 'male person'. It's a pity that we don't have separate words like Latin did (homo as in hominid and vir as in virile), but we don't, and we just have to accept it.
But we shouldn't get over-zealous: the rather lovely song Homo Fugit Velut Umbra translates as 'Man flees like a shadow', and I challenge you to replace 'man' with something gender-neutral without robbing it of all its poetry. But then, art is allowed to break all the rules, or Randy Newman couldn't write a song from the point of view of a child-sex-murderer. But I digress.
Gender-neutral job titles risk mirroring the mealy-mouthed, euphemistic and wordy titles that seem designed to inflate the holder's apparent importance and confuse everyone else, as in person-centred transition facilitator or ambient replenishment controller. For me, whoever empties my bins will always be 'the dustman'. You can't call him (or her, though I've yet to see it) a 'dustperson', and "refuse collector" is a bit too wordy and too uncolloquial. Nor do I see any problem with 'steward' and 'stewardess' or 'waiter' and 'waitress'. There's no need for gender-distinct job titles, since they're exactly the same job, but what harm do they do?
I can't think of any political objection to 'chairperson', although it does lack warmth, which is probably why many people prefer 'chair'. Do we need to go any further? Decades ago, the general assumption was that women were less competent than men and so a recognisably female job title implied a lesser competence. You can't argue with feminists wanting to change that. But anything that replaces the expressiveness of language with long-winded phrases designed to purely to conceal something should be treated with caution. Is a heroine really less heroic than a hero? Is the dustman fooled into thinking his job is more glamorous because someone at the council has changed his job title?
It's not that big a deal nowadays. Generally, there's no need for job titles that specify a gender, but if they already exist and have survived into the 21st Century, perhaps they should be left alone. Good writers instinctively go for the most expressive terms they can. It's right that we've tackled words that misleadingly imply a gender (such as 'chairman'), but words that imply a gender without implying a value judgement (such as 'waiter') do no harm.
The most misguided example of unsexing the language is the recent trend of actresses calling themselves 'actors'. Not only have they missed the boat by three decades, they seem to ignore the fact that the roles of actors and actresses are distinct. If I were directing Macbeth, I'd be looking for an actress to play Lady Macbeth, not an actor. A white man can play a black man (though it's understandably frowned upon nowadays) and vice versa: when I played King Duncan, Ross was black and nobody thought it odd to have a black nobleman in 11th Century Scotland. In theatre and film, the gender distinction is very clear: actors and actresses play different roles, unlike male and female doctors. If the prestige isn't the same, tinkering with the job title won't make an iota of difference.
If an actress insists on being called an actor, that suggests an unjustified inferiority complex. Helen Mirren calls herself an actress and it doesn't seem to have done her any harm. When "female actors" mount a serious campaign to abolish the Best Actress Oscar, I might take them a bit more seriously.
And if you believe feminism has further to go, then micro-managing the language is no longer the main priority.
Moral: Language shouldn't be sexist, but nor should it be neutered.