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"Guys/Girls" - Linguistic Design Question

over 5 years ago from , Lead Designer at Agrilyst

I'm working on an app where the user needs to select a gender from a dropdown list. In keeping with the tone of the app, the terminology should be casual – "Male/Female" is too clinical, and "Man/Woman" is too stiff.

One possibility is "Guy/Girl," which matches the conversational style of the app's language. I'm not sure those terms have parity, though – "girl" seems more like a diminutive form of "female" than "guy" is of "male."

Is "Guy/Girl" the best option, or is there something better I could be using?

14 comments

  • Marc EdwardsMarc Edwards, over 5 years ago
    1. Do you really need to ask for a gender? Could you make the app work without asking (remember also that there’s a wider spectrum than just male and female).

    2. Why not use glyphs?

    12 points
  • Zac ColleyZac Colley, over 5 years ago

    Boy/Girl/Other maybe?

    You should consider people who don't identify as male or female too.

    7 points
    • Maurice CherryMaurice Cherry, over 5 years ago

      Agreed. Can't hurt to go with a non-binary gender option. Male/Female/Other (maybe with an option for them to type in the user's preferred gender identity) is a good solution.

      6 points
  • Adrian HowardAdrian Howard, over 5 years ago

    Do you really need to know, really really?

    I'd go with other folks of avoiding asking it if at all possible, and to stick with male/female/other.

    I would definitely avoid "girl" since I've seen some very bad reactions to that term in usability testing in the past.

    4 points
    • Gabriel BrodersenGabriel Brodersen, over 5 years ago

      Agree. I would avoid it if possible.

      Though, of it really is a must that you know the users gender, I would stick with Male/Female, and not put too much attention on it.

      3 points
    • Sabrina VogeleySabrina Vogeley, over 5 years ago

      Seconding this. If you absolutely have to ask for gender, male/female/other is probably your best bet, though guy/gal/other is passable if you're looking for something more colloquial.

      Anything but "girl" in reference to females, really.

      1 point
  • Erik BeesonErik Beeson, over 5 years ago

    Male/Female, Man/Woman, Boy/Girl, Guy/Gal, Gentleman/Lady, Sir/Madame, Dude/Chick, Bro/Babe.

    I'm not sure what's best for your app, but at the very least, "Guy/Girl" seems inconsistent.

    2 points
    • Tierney CyrenTierney Cyren, over 5 years ago

      I think these are the best solutions presented here. They fit with the description you, the OP, gave us of the app.

      I've had some good discussions about the "guy/girl" gender difference with programmer/designer friends, and we essentially agreed that there's not equality between "guy" and "girl." A guy is an adult male, but a girl is a female child. It's demeaning and insensitive.

      It's a very good sign that you've taken the time to consider the problem, and ask for help from people who are like-minded. I know you'll be able to back up whatever decision you make with solid reasoning and be sure you're doing the right thing. Good luck.

      0 points
      • Jake Lazaroff, over 5 years ago

        If you look at the actual words, "guy/girl" do seem weirdly unequal, but anecdotally I hear them used almost universally as vernacular (20-somethings, many of whom are in design/tech, both male and female). I agree, though, that you should avoid them—it seems silly and insensitive to use language you know might offend people.

        +1 to the icons suggestion, +100 to including an "other" category.

        0 points
  • Louis PuahLouis Puah, over 5 years ago

    In light of the issue of non-binary genders, I thought it might be interesting to have a slider input with 'Male' on one end and 'Female' on the other. But of course, this isn't all-inclusive. And it doesn't address the issue of linguistics.

    1 point
  • Aaron GitlinAaron Gitlin, over 5 years ago

    I think you've inadvertently brought up a larger debate over gender and its cross into UI Design :)

    I tend to agree with most people here: if you don't need to ask, I wouldn't. I would avoid iconography in this case, it's fun but not very accessible.

    This is the most boring option but I would stick with male/female, with maybe even an option for 'other'. This keeps things inclusive and you can rest easy knowing you haven't accidentally made a stand in a debate regarding gender identity.

    1 point
  • Todd SielingTodd Sieling, over 5 years ago

    I'd stick with male/female if you must ask for gender, and if you're only able to use binary labels. I get the feeling of it being clinical, but anything else I can think of is more problematic.

    0 points
  • Darth BaneDarth Bane, over 5 years ago

    Here's a tip from someone who used to design for a dating platform: make sure you include "other", unless you want an epic shit storm to rain over you.

    0 points