What is a gender-neutral alternative to the expression "man-days"? I thought of "work-days" but am wondering if there might be another term. The use would be, for instance, "This project requires staffing of 1000 man-days over a six-month period."

  • Is man-day really used?-- I'm a native English speaker and can't recall this being used despite that man-hour seems perfectly fine to me. – errantlinguist Feb 24 '17 at 10:16
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    This question contains the assumption that "man-day" is not gender-neutral. However it is. The question should really ask "What is a term for "man-day" without referencing gender?" – smci Mar 2 '17 at 9:53
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Person-hour or person-day are gender-neutral alternatives suggested by Wikipedia.

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    And since OP is asking about days, person-day is a term I've heard and used. – JAM Mar 28 '13 at 13:24

If we’re talking labour, you could use worker-days, because in this context, worker is a better fix than person.

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    This is different from "work-days" in that you're still talking about people. – Joe Z. Mar 28 '13 at 13:41

For software efforts, I like "developer days". Sure, it's longer, but it alliterates nicely, and can be abbreviated to "dev days" once everyone in the organization is familiar with the term.

  • Very nice: Gender neutral while not artificial PC, so nobody can complain. (Also tells you that it doesn't count manager days, tester days, marketing days etc. ). – gnasher729 Mar 18 '16 at 9:08

We use labor days. The man-hour has become the labor-hour.

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    Isn't there only one labour day a year, though? – Joe Z. Mar 28 '13 at 15:23
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    @JoeZeng - that explains the progress on some of my projects – mgb Mar 28 '13 at 15:55
  • @JoeZeng - In case you're serious, the holiday is capitalized. And, as a matter of fact. Labour Day is celebrated on many different dates in various countries. So there are actually many Labour Days. – Canis Lupus Mar 29 '13 at 0:10
  • ^ Nah, I was just joking. – Joe Z. Mar 29 '13 at 4:34
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    With man-hour or person-hour, you multiply the people times the hours to get the man-hours. Just like foot-pounds, acre-feet, or kilowatt-hours. Miles/gallon or stitches/inch follow a similar convention. Labor isn't already a unit that is used to measure anything. – jejorda2 Aug 16 '16 at 18:15

Surely man hours or man days are both acceptable. You say you want a "gender neutral" alternative, but these forms are unmarked, much like we use mankind when talking about all people, not just those who are male. If you use a term like people days you might risk being ambiguous and waste time explaining your new word that could be spent on this massive project!

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    What possible ambiguity is there in "people-days"? – Russell Borogove Mar 28 '13 at 19:45
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    This is an argument, not an answer. – horatio Mar 28 '13 at 21:20
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    Actually, there really are people who think that mankind is offensively sexist. – tchrist Mar 28 '13 at 21:33
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    @tchrist: They’re on the wrong side of historical etymology (man ~ person, wyf ~ female, wer ~ male), though probably the right side of good intentions. – Jon Purdy Mar 29 '13 at 7:09
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    Downvoted because it's completely non-responsive to the question. – Noah Snyder Mar 29 '13 at 14:15

I sometimes use the phrase "days of effort" as in:

This task will take about 20 days of effort.

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    Not clear whether that means the team will need 20 days, or the 5-member team will need 4 days. – TimLymington Mar 29 '13 at 11:21

Since the phrase "staff years" is fairly common, I expect it would be well-understood to say "staff days". This avoids the ambiguity of "work days", which could be understood to mean Monday-Friday (depending on how clear the context is).


Effort-Days has been my best and I have used it for over 30 years now. It is also recommended by a number of multilateral and multi-national organizations.


Assuming the context is labuor generally, I would suggest "work days".

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    Please add objective sources to your answer to substantiate it. Have a look at the help center to find out about good answers. – Helmar Aug 16 '16 at 20:56

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