The Evolution of Gendered Titles: Mr, Mrs, Ms, and Miss

A Step Towards Gender Equity

2 min read

a bookshelf with a lamp on top of it
a bookshelf with a lamp on top of it

Titles like Mr, Mrs, Ms, and Miss have long been used to address individuals based on their gender. They have become deeply ingrained in our society and are often used as a way to show respect or to denote marital status. However, as society progresses towards greater gender equity, the importance of reevaluating these titles and their implications becomes increasingly evident.

The Origins of Gendered Titles

The use of gendered titles can be traced back to the 17th century when they were introduced as a way to denote social status and marital status. The title "Mr" is derived from the word "master," which was used to address young men or boys. On the other hand, "Mrs" and "Miss" were used to indicate a woman's marital status, with "Mrs" being used for married women and "Miss" for unmarried women.

The Significance of Gendered Titles

While these titles may seem harmless, they can reinforce traditional gender roles and perpetuate gender stereotypes. The use of gendered titles assumes that a person's marital status defines their identity, which is an outdated notion in today's diverse and inclusive society. Additionally, these titles can also create unnecessary distinctions between individuals based on their gender, further contributing to gender inequality.

The Rise of the Title "Ms"

In the 20th century, the need for a gender-neutral title became apparent as women sought to be addressed without their marital status being emphasized. The title "Ms" emerged as a solution, allowing women to be addressed respectfully without revealing their marital status. "Ms" quickly gained popularity and became widely accepted as a way to address women in a professional and inclusive manner.

Promoting Gender Equity

Changing the way we address individuals by eliminating gendered titles is an important step towards achieving gender equity. By using gender-neutral titles like "Ms" for all women, regardless of their marital status, we can promote equal treatment and recognition for both men and women. This small but significant change can help challenge traditional gender norms and create a more inclusive society.

Furthermore, eliminating gendered titles can also benefit individuals who do not identify within the gender binary. Non-binary individuals, for example, may not feel comfortable being addressed as either "Mr" or "Mrs/Ms/Miss." As we advocate for gender equity, a significant stride involves adopting gender-neutral titles. Unveiling alternatives that do not emphasize gender or marital status, such as Mx, allows us to transcend traditional boundaries and embrace a more inclusive language. This shift not only aligns with contemporary values but also reinforces the idea that individuals should be addressed based on their unique qualities rather than societal expectations. By adopting gender-neutral titles, we can create a more inclusive environment that respects and acknowledges the diverse identities of all individuals.


The history and significance of gendered titles highlight the need for change in our language and societal norms. By embracing gender-neutral titles and eliminating the emphasis on marital status, we can take a significant step towards achieving gender equity. It is crucial that we continuously evaluate and challenge the norms that perpetuate inequality, and the use of gendered titles is one such area where progress can be made. Let us strive for a society that values and respects individuals based on their abilities, achievements, and character rather than their gender or marital status.

The history of Mr, Mrs, Ms, and Miss is deeply intertwined with societal norms and expectations. As we strive for gender equity, language plays a pivotal role in shaping perceptions and dismantling stereotypes. By reconsidering and adopting gender-neutral titles, we take a meaningful step towards recognizing individuals for their inherent worth rather than conforming to outdated conventions. It's time to embrace a language that reflects our commitment to equality and inclusivity.