Calling adult female employees 'girls'

(57 Posts)
Mandytm Mon 04-Mar-13 15:40:52

I was just in the post office and there was a sign on the wall saying 'please do not use your mobile phone while the girls are serving you'.

There were 4 women working behind the glass, all aged between 40 and 60 I would say.

It makes me think of the 17th Century when a rich English household might have an adult black man servant and call him 'boy'.

Am I the only one who gets so bugged by things like this?

Lottapianos Mon 04-Mar-13 15:45:21

No, you're not the only one. And I completely agree with your analogy about calling black servants 'boy' - it's the same thing, making the 'girls' seem less powerful and less significant than the person who wrote that notice.

All in all,yuck sad angry

ChocolateCoins Mon 04-Mar-13 15:49:14

Being called 'girl' doesn't bother me. 'lass' on the other hand... angry

No, what will they do if they employ a man?

"please do not use your mobile phone whilst being served at the counter" would do the job perfectly well.

meditrina Mon 04-Mar-13 15:51:39

You are not the only one.

Girls refers to minors, and I don't violently object to it being stretched to early 20s, nor if it is used colloquially when 'boy's' could be used for men, nor even in cases where it's an established idiomatic phrase.

But on an official notice to the public about adult staff - ugh.

Schooldidi Mon 04-Mar-13 15:57:44

I don't like it either.

I'm quite happy for people to refer to themselves as whatever they want, but an employer should not be referring to employees as girls, or boys.

It probably isn't meant in any malicious way, it's just been put up by somebody who hasn't thought it through all the way.

Mandytm Mon 04-Mar-13 16:36:13

Schooldidi I'm sure it wasn't malicious, but that's the sad thing, that people would write it automatically without thinking.

FireOverBabylon the only man there was in a suit, hovering around in the back, I can't imagine he would ever have to sink so low as serving customers.

Pootles2010 Mon 04-Mar-13 16:37:59

I think it depends - if you're referring to the men as 'boys' its not so bad. Not something I'd do myself, but ...

If however its just applied to women... angry

LadyIsabellaWrotham Mon 04-Mar-13 16:44:23

Mmm, I use "boys" for groups of adult male employees. I think it's a bit rubbish on a formal sign in a post office, but it's very possible that that's how the group refers to themselves to mark the fact that they're all female, so that's how they naturally wrote the sign. Not great, but in the grand scheme of things I can't get too worked up.

coribells Mon 04-Mar-13 16:52:03

This happens at work sometimes. I work in a professional environment and it does wind me up. I might have to challenge the next man who refers to me and my colleagues as 'girls', a bit hard when it's the director though .

badguider Mon 04-Mar-13 18:43:28

Girls doesn't bother me as much as I know it does some women as I use boys to refer to men just as often. I do sometimes use boys and girls for adults, in a very informal way, in spoken communication in an informal work situation. But to write it on a sign at work just doesn't read correctly at all, like the post office are downplaying the professionalism of their own staff and playing down their importance while at the same time the notice is asking for respect for them.

Trekkie Mon 04-Mar-13 19:48:53

I agree with badguider smile

To write it down like that is just plain odd.

specialsubject Mon 04-Mar-13 21:35:14

so challenge it. I had someone use 'good girl' on a training course, which happened to be the week of my 41st birthday. Politely requested that this was stopped during the feedback session at the end (after being told that I'd passed, although I don't actually think it would have made a difference!)

it was taken on in good part and hopefully remembered.

Trekkie Mon 04-Mar-13 22:27:16

Yes i agree this is a situation where it would be straightforward to try and do something. Big chains are sometimes easier for stuff like this. I got the sport moved from the bottom shelf to a higher one in my local smiths a few years back by calling the customer helpline <small victory!> You could try something like that if you feel like it.

LittlePushka Mon 04-Mar-13 22:42:06

Does this irritation extend to the description "girlfriend" for any over17....or to women who organise a "girls night out" ....

I regularly refer to my friends as " the Girls".

It is a phrase which infers a social intimacy in such contexts.

However, I would think it as somewhat unprofessional to see it used in the context of a notice to the public.... but no more than I would if a sign had spelling mistakes, capitals mid-sentence or an incorrect apostrophe.

Trekkie Mon 04-Mar-13 22:54:17

I don't expect to be in a position of social intimacy with the women who work in the local post-office confused

A chat about the weather is probably as far as it'll get confused

Darkesteyes Mon 04-Mar-13 23:12:16

I used to work in a sex chatline office and we used to have our timesheets pinned to a notice board.
One week the heading "Call" girls timesheets was used. hmm

I dont know if anyone else hates this but i had an ex who kept calling me babe. I bloody hate being called that but i cant really articulate why.

LittlePushka Mon 04-Mar-13 23:29:08

Trekkie, that is sort of my point! It is not the use of the phrase, but the context.

whilst I would find the sign unprofessional, were I a collegue of the staff at that same post office (or anywhere), I may well, for example, breeze into a kitchen at lunchtime put the kettle on and say "Coffee Girls?" - and all of us the other side of 40.

Trekkie Mon 04-Mar-13 23:39:28

Yes I think that is what i think

I use "chaps" if it's some blokes or "kids" if it's my immediate colleagues

i am quite new
They are very quiet
i feel like a bit of a lemming every time I do it grin
Oddly I would say chaps or guys but I never refer to a group of women as "girls" - and when I went out the other night with a female friend and someone at work said "ooh girls night out" I was caught between wanting to pull my own teeth out and punch him!

LittlePushka Mon 04-Mar-13 23:56:36

Trekkie, of the two options perhaps the latter would be more satisfying wink . Would it have also grated if it had been said by a female ...genuinely interested. I use the term almost as a solidarity collective,...i would be sorry if I upset anyone. But how would I know? I shall look out for someone pulling their teeth out or a deadly left hook!

Trekkie Wed 06-Mar-13 10:05:08

It grates on me whoever says it TBH - the connotations of "girls" things make me squirm - it's all about stereotyping isn't it. Maybe I need to "reclaim" the word girls grin

I know that lads night / boys night makes some men squirm too.

Mandytm Sat 09-Mar-13 12:54:48

I've made a complaint to the post office, lets see what they come back with.

I agree that in a social/informal situation girls and boys can be inoffensive, but in a work environment, on a public notice, it just doesn't encourage the level if respect the employees deserve from the customers.

TeiTetua Sat 09-Mar-13 13:00:50

If "boys" would be used in the same manner and tone of voice, then "girls" might be acceptable. But if any males in the vicinity would be "men" or "guys" or "fellows" then no, everyone's an adult.

bingodiva Sat 09-Mar-13 13:04:13

i think youve got too much time on your hands to notice a sign and then complain about it because you dont like it. last time i looked girls were female, all the people behind the desk were female - the sign was accurate...

Mandytm Tue 12-Mar-13 17:35:59

bingodiva Thank you.

I will reevaluate how I conduct myself during my free time and keep quiet in future.

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