I've noticed in informal communication it's not uncommon to refer to a grown women as a 'girl'. For example:
- "The girl on the phone said we needed to apply in person"
- "I saw two men hitting on the same girl at the bar last night"
- "Maybe the new girl they just hired can help, she use to do that at her old job"
I hear this often, I've even caught myself doing it on occasion. I don't like it because it feels less empowering of women, that grown men are referred to as men, but women are referred to with a term used for children. It's minor, but it's one of those tiny use of the language that perpetuate subconscious cultural stereotypes about the sexes in a manner that may not be favorable to women.
I'm looking for a word that could be used in the situations that 'girl' is often used today, but one that doesn't risk being dis-empowering as 'girl' could be.
I think part of the reason 'girl' is used instead of women is it's easier to say. girl is one syllable, women is two. It may seem minor, but when speaking quickly, especially about someone in passing, the faster 'girl' flows easier and doesn't slow the conversation as much. For that matter for some reason 'women' sounds slightly more formal to my ears, to the point that it could theoretically feel out of place in a particularly casual conversation.
Thus I'm hoping to find a word that is just one syllable and would fit in casual conversation well.
I've already thought of lass, but that's a very regional term and would feel odd used where I'm from, plus for some reason it doesn't feel any more empowering then women, for some reason I partially associate it with men using it in a more dismissive manner to refer to a women, though I don't know if that's a common connotation or just an odd association of my own.