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Old Dec 12, 2008, 04:16 PM   #1
foidulus
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How to address women whose marital status is unknown

Like many others on here, I too have a question about women, but this time its not about romance :P

I applied to a job and the HR person who contacted me is a woman. I didn't know how to address her, so I sidestepped the whole issue by not using her name in the email at all. However, I'm curious as to what the proper salutation is in this regard. Calling her Ms. would be bad if she was married, and also could be demeaning. Calling her Mrs. has a lot of the same issues. I could call her by her first name, but that sounds a bit too informal considering she is evaluating me for a position(though Americans tend to be overly informal) Using her whole name without any prefix just seems awkward. What do you guys do in these situations?

Alas, she lacked a PhD or I could have just called her Dr.
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Old Dec 12, 2008, 04:17 PM   #2
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Mrs. is safe when you dont know anything about them
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Old Dec 12, 2008, 04:17 PM   #3
quagmire
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I would have said Ms. She isn't going to take it as an insult because a stranger didn't know she was married.
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Old Dec 12, 2008, 04:19 PM   #4
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Either "Ms", "Ma'am", or "Honey"... Pick the best 2 out of 3...
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Old Dec 12, 2008, 04:20 PM   #5
Blue Velvet
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Just address her as she signed off her email. It's simple.
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Old Dec 12, 2008, 04:22 PM   #6
LeoFio
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Quote:
Originally Posted by quagmire View Post
I would have said Ms. She isn't going to take it as an insult because a stranger didn't know she was married.
I agree with you. While both prefixes are not ideal in the wrong situation, I think it is less offending to assume someone is not married than to assume that they are.
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Old Dec 12, 2008, 04:22 PM   #7
dukebound85
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blue Velvet View Post
Just address her as she signed off her email. It's simple.
even if they sign off like

Quote:
Thanks!

Jane Smith
is it appropriate to reply
Quote:
Jane,
Hi, yada yada, yada.
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Old Dec 12, 2008, 04:24 PM   #8
davidwarren
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Ms. is appropriate
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Old Dec 12, 2008, 04:25 PM   #9
dukebound85
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Quote:
Originally Posted by quagmire View Post
I would have said Ms. She isn't going to take it as an insult because a stranger didn't know she was married.
Quote:
Originally Posted by LeoFio View Post
I agree with you. While both prefixes are not ideal in the wrong situation, I think it is less offending to assume someone is not married than to assume that they are.
Quote:
Originally Posted by davidwarren View Post
Ms. is appropriate
see i was always told the opposite

have i been wrong?

crap! as thats how ive been doing it lol
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Old Dec 12, 2008, 04:27 PM   #10
rhsgolfer33
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I usually use Ms. if I don't know marital status, but most people you know nothing about probably aren't going to get too offended if you use either one.
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Old Dec 12, 2008, 04:28 PM   #11
bwortman
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OK the proper way is as follows:

Miss [mis]- Young woman or a title of respect for an unmarried person

Ms. [miz] - A title of respect prefixed to a woman's name or position: unlike Miss or Mrs., it does not depend upon or indicate her marital status.

Mrs. [Mis-iz] - Married
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Old Dec 12, 2008, 04:29 PM   #12
EV0LUTION
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I always say Mam.
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Old Dec 12, 2008, 04:29 PM   #13
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I'd say Ms, since it can work both ways.
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Old Dec 12, 2008, 04:29 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dukebound85 View Post
see i was always told the opposite

have i been wrong?

crap! as thats how ive been doing it lol
Ms. is correct. Learn something everyday, eh?
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Old Dec 12, 2008, 04:30 PM   #15
foidulus
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dukebound85 View Post
even if they sign off like



is it appropriate to reply
She signed it (first name) Bland.

So I guess (First name) would work, though the name Ms. Bland reminds me of all those funky avatars the mods had at one point
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Old Dec 12, 2008, 04:30 PM   #16
cube
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Ms. is the proper way. This is taught in English class.
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Old Dec 12, 2008, 04:33 PM   #17
Scottyk9
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From wikipedia:

"Ms. originated in the United States and was popularized in the 1970s. In the U.S., the Emily Post Institute states that Ms. is the default form of address for business correspondence with a woman."

My understanding:

Mrs. if married
Miss if unmarried
Ms. if you don't know, or want to downplay the whole issue of marital status (such as in professional interactions).
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Old Dec 12, 2008, 04:34 PM   #18
Unspeaked
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Didn't we learn from Mel Gibson that the most correct term is "sweet lips?"
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Old Dec 12, 2008, 04:35 PM   #19
dukebound85
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Ms. is correct. Learn something everyday, eh?
apparently

hopefully i havent looked a fool in the past
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Old Dec 12, 2008, 05:01 PM   #20
duncyboy
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I'd use Ms or if the setting was appropriate, just her full name.

'Can I speak to Ms Thompson, please?'

or

'Can I speak to Judith Thompson, please?'*

I don't think any reasonable lady would take umbrage at you using Miss/Ms/Mrs incorrectly anyways.


*Note: this is not a reference to an ACTUAL Judith Thompson, the name has only been chosen at random by my brain for an example and any inference to Judith Thompsons real, fictional, living, dead or unusually sensitive about salutations is purely coincidental.
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Old Dec 12, 2008, 05:03 PM   #21
teflon
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IIRC, Ms started in the 70s as an equivalent of Mr, as you can't tell a man's marital status from Mr. A lot of married women still uses Ms, because they feel that Miss or Mrs is a little sexist since men's marital status never comes into play. So yeah Ms is always the right one to use.
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