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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."

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    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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11 Answers 11

23

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
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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
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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.

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  • 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
  • A problem with this is that you can't say the whole project will take X developer days, because some of the effort will go into testing, project management, etc. – nnnnnn Jan 22 at 21:23
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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
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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
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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. – Tim Lymington Mar 29 '13 at 11:21
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Days of effort is probably the most accurate. Work-days is shorter. Labour(or labor)days sounds more manual. Developer days is fine if you want to only look at part of the job, but Analysis days, Tester days etc would be needed too. I did wonder if Lady Days for the next hundred years would redress the balance (no, being 'humourous', or not). Man days does automatically make people think of the male first, so we do need something else, but it needs to clearly mean number of actual days of effort so people don't misinterpret as 'time to delivery'. It needs to be acceptable to feminists and misogynists alike. Work-days is what I'd vote for; I guess we'll see what gets into general use.

Since these development efforts are usually for comparison with other projects, Jira's idea of using points to indicate level of effort without saying directly it will take 5 days (and then being taken to task because it took 5.5 days) is a useful one, if people can be persuaded to use it properly.

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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).

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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.

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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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"Personnel hours" or "staff bandwidth" are good alternatives.

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    Who uses "staff bandwidth" to represent man-days? – KillingTime Aug 16 '19 at 14:58
  • Could you add some references of where these have been used in the wild? – marcellothearcane Aug 17 '19 at 18:20

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