“What?!!” she audibly sucked in air on hearing that people are still debating the basic definition of sexist writing. “I’m just shocked we’re even talking about this in 2013.”

The team of AP Stylebook editors, headed by Powell, Howard Angione, and the late Christopher French, went through repeated revisions, sending proposed rules back and forth with member newspaper editors. The women’s entries in the late 1970s were even more contentious than those on race, she recalled, but in the end there was widespread agreement. (The 1980 AP edition allows the use of “Ms.” several years before The New York Times permitted that neutral courtesy title.)

“There was quite a bit of consensus about the changes that were made in the late 1970s,” she said, wondering why the terms of the debate were not more clear today. “When I die, I hope my obit does not read, ‘She made a helluva beef stroganoff and also was a foreign correspondent.’”

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Jessica Seigel is an adjunct journalism professor at New York University whose writing has appeared in numerous outlets, including The New York Times, Ms. Magazine, and NPR. Follow her on Twitter at @jessicaseagull