Are you founding a women geeks group? Then you'll probably need a name. Here are some words/terms/names you could use to show that it is for women.

When choosing a name, it's important to be welcoming to trans women and not just cis women. Additionally, if you want to include genderqueer and/or non-binary-identified people who aren't male in your organization, it's worth thinking about how to choose a name that is inclusive.

Women

Examples:

Pros:

  • Probably the most neutral term available now. Less polarizing than other terms.
  • Very inclusive to adult women, especially ages 25-120
  • Common on restroom signs
  • Recommended in journalism by AP Stylebook

Cons:

  • Doesn't rhyme with anything
  • Younger women and teenagers don't necessarily associate themselves with the term
  • Can feel overly formal and businesslike

Ladies

Examples:

Pros:

  • Commonly reappropriated in hip-hop feminism, e.g. Ladies First by Queen Latifah. Has come back into vogue in recent years [2][3]
  • Can be fun in a retro, ironic way, e.g. "Single Ladies" by Beyoncé
  • Commonly used on restroom signs in some places, esp. multicultural urban areas
  • More casual and playful than "women"
  • Commonly used by college-aged women who might not identify with the term "woman" yet. Widely used by sororities. [3]

Cons:

  • Offensive in some places and contexts [4]
  • Can feel overly old-fashioned
  • Can feel classist
  • "Woman" preferred over "lady" in journalism. AP Stylebook says, "lady: Do not use as a synonym for women. Lady may be used when it is a courtesy title or when a specific reference to fine manners is appropriate without patronizing overtones." [5]

Female

Examples:

Pros:

Cons:

  • Often considered disrespectful or demeaning in modern usage. [4]
  • Often used by trans-excluding radical feminists to refer exclusively to cis women. Thus, some trans women will assume that they aren't welcome in a group with "females" in the name.

Girls

Examples:

Pros:

  • One syllable

Cons:

  • Off-putting/infantilising to some women
  • Can be confusing to actual intent of audience

Grrls

Examples:

Pros:

  • Rad 90s RiotGrrl zine vibe

Cons:

  • Similar to 'girls', can be off-putting to women

Gals

Examples:

Pros:

  • Casual, fun

Cons:

  • Similar to 'girls', can be off-putting to women
  • Trivialising? Depends on purpose of the group

Chicks/Chix

Examples:

Pros:

  • Fun, casual, and light-hearted. Playful.
  • Fun and empowering to reclaim the word.
  • Common in women's tech group names. Easily identifiable as a fun technical women's group.

Cons:

  • Pretty 90s.
  • "Chicks" is a trivialising and somewhat sexualized term for women. So using it has the pros/cons of reclamation.
  • Can be embarrassing or accidentally offensive to say aloud because it sounds like saying "chicks," e.g. sounds like saying, "Are you going to the Linux Chicks meetup?"
  • If referred to by a man verbally, it can cause accidental insult, e.g. "You're a Dev Chick, right?"

Dolls

Examples:

Pros/Cons:

  • Very informal


Sisters

Examples:

  • Systers
  • CSters (a university group)

Pros:

  • Suggests a level of closeness that can be rare in an often hostile field.

Cons:

  • Suggests a level of closeness that may be offputting for a casual group.

Feminist

Examples:

Pros/Cons:

Divas

Cons:

  • Very exclusionary to women who are not traditionally feminine

Broads

Examples:

Pros/Cons:

Unicorns

From the unicorn law, ie, a woman geek is as rare/mythical as a unicorn.

Examples:

  • The Haecksen miniconf doesn't use it as a name, but has made considerable use of unicorn logos.

Pros/Cons:

  • Lends itself well to icons and graphics.
  • The term is not well known outside the geek feminism community, and therefore can confuse or alienate people.
  • Haecksen found that some men missed the irony and were encouraged to actually treat women like unicorns: ie, to photograph them and exclaim over a coveted "unicorn" sighting.

Mother/Mom

Examples:

Pros/Cons:

  • Only a good idea if explicitly for mothers and that is relevant to the group

She/Her (female pronouns)

Examples:

Pros/Cons:

Miss/Ms/Mrs (female titles)

Examples:

Pros/Cons:


Abbreviation that uses one of the above terms

Examples:

  • WoMoz, short for "Women & Mozilla"

Pro:

  • If you can make a nice acronym it can work well

Con:

  • Can be obscure

Name reference to a famous woman in the field

Pros:

  • Different

Cons:

  • May be too obscure
  • Can be a difficult choice between being named for a recognizable woman and being one of many organizations named for that woman!

Borrowing from other languages

Examples:

Cons:

  • Obscure, could be appropriative

No gender connotation at all

Examples:

Pros:

  • Lots of flexibility
  • Can avoid a connotation that your group intends to be the only women's group with your scope (as opposed to "ProjectName Women" or "CityName Feminist Hackerspace"

Cons:

  • May need a nearly permanent subtitle
  • Not obvious in a passing reference that women are the intended audience
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