Final Update: Finished, but not finished; the words women use to describe themselves and others

As I conclude my project, I’ve had a hard time actually concluding it. I continue to look through the data, realizing I missed a good question, or that I should have made a certain connection. I really enjoyed this research project and I hope to do more in the future. For now, however, I will reflect. 

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Post #2: which words do women use to describe themselves?

It’s been a few weeks since my last post and I have now almost 600 responses– 597 to be exact. To add onto the results from my and my Facebook friends’ original posts, I decided to post in the school meme group. After examining the demographics of my survey respondents, I hoped to find more respondents that weren’t similar to me, white and from northern Virginia. As W&M is a state school, and the Facebook group is meant for students, the number of college-aged Virginian participants grew dramatically. However, the participants were more diverse than the original group, and I hope to be able to represent more with this data. I will continue to recognize the imbalances in my data, and here especially the age group differences.

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Post #1: Words Women Use

The first step in starting my summer research project was writing my survey. Since the project deals with people, I first needed to write the survey to complete my protocol for the Student Institutional Review Board. Another part of the protocol was completing an online course in ethics by CITI.

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Investigating the words women use to describe themselves

This summer, I will conduct research on the English words that people who identify as women use for themselves and what words they find acceptable to use, especially in relation to age. For children, the word ‘girl’, is widely acceptable, but the matter of at what age people should no longer be called ‘girls’ is a tricky one. In my experience, many teenagers and young adults do not want to be referred to as ‘girls’, but they do not necessarily feel as though ‘women’ fits them either. My idiolect of American English, and the dialects of most of my peers do not have a word that specifically describes female adolescents and young adults. The word after ‘girl’ is ‘woman’, or ‘women’, for which I feel too young. Somewhat separate from age distinction is the word ‘lady’, but the word has a negative connotation in some cases. Thus, I have returned to ‘girl’ in recent times.

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