Guardian: ‘Why there are too many women doctors, women MPs, and women bosses’

I am a subeditor at the Guardian. I am a woman. I am not a woman subeditor. But “woman” and its plural seem to be taking over the role of modifier, so that now, there is no such thing, as far as much of the media is concerned, as a female doctor, a female MP or a female chef. Instead you hear or read about a woman doctor, a woman MP and so on.

The Telegraph seems to like this usage. Just in the past two months it has run the following headlines: “Britain’s lack of women MPs worse than in 64 countries worldwide”, “Kathy Lette calls for women writers to get their claws into Booker judges” and “Just who are the five women bosses of the FTSE 100?”. The BBC uses it, too – “Women bosses in Wales earn £4k less than men”, it reported in August. There’s no obvious ruling in either of their style books on favouring “woman” over “female”.

As far as the Guardian style guide is concerned, it is simply wrong to use “woman” and “women” in this way, because, it says, they are not adjectives…

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