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My organization is seeking to replace all "manpower" terminology with gender neutral terms. There are some instances where the conventional abbreviation "EQM", which stands for "Equivalent Manpower" is used. Is there a commonly accepted substitute for this abbreviation which is gender neutral?


NOTE: This is not a question seeking general answers for terms, and it is thus not a purely opinion based question. This is a question of standards and conventions. If I asked if there is a conventional term in physics for "influence which tends to change the motion of an object" that is not an EL&U question. EL&U could have many answers for a word which means "influence which tends to change the motion of an object", but in physics there is one standard: "Force".

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This question appears to be off-topic because it is about issues of English Language & Usage –  gnat Sep 3 at 14:14
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I don't understand the downvote either. This isn't about the specifics of English Language. –  user18296 Sep 3 at 14:15
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@gnat I am asking for a term which is commonly accepted in management. I thought Workplace would have more information on this than EL&U. –  called2voyage Sep 3 at 14:15
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Isn't the term "manpower" pretty widespread and means men or women. Same for "freshman" e.g. in high school or college. No one thinks it is gender biased. –  Brandin Sep 4 at 14:39

3 Answers 3

up vote 40 down vote accepted

Is there a commonly accepted substitute for this abbreviation which is gender neutral?

My current company (and several others where I have worked) uses the term FTE - Full-time Equivalent. We use that for project planning and staffing.

No gender is stated or implied by that term.

I've heard it used at many companies in my part of the world, but I don't know how to define "commonly accepted substitute" in this context.

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My company also uses FTE. –  alroc Sep 3 at 15:02
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FTE seems to be the norm can you say why EQM is different? and I cant find an real definition online is EQM some single company only jargon? –  Pepone Sep 3 at 18:43
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@called2voyage so just say xx department has 250 FTE –  Pepone Sep 3 at 19:56
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FTE is used only really in summation (like you say EQM is), so it seems identical to me (and very common in my experience as well). "My department has 15 FTEs, with a total headcount of 20. 10 of my developers are half time and ten are full time." –  Joe Sep 3 at 21:01
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FTE is, in my experience, very widely used in professions like teaching and nursing in the USA. It seems a fine choice. –  user987654 Sep 3 at 21:50

Well, let's leave aside for the moment that "Manpower" IS gender-neutral ("Man" meaning Mankind, and not males. Woman is actually a subset/specialization of Man, if you want to break the language down to brass tacks).

Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woman#Etymology

But, I've seen this ridiculous exercise played out a few times, and in all but one, sanity returned when people realized what "Manpower" actually meant.

Terms I've seen that you may wish to consider:

  • Workforce Equivalent - WFE (Oddly enough, was balked at because it "looked like" Wife)
  • Effective Labor Output - ELO
  • Equivalent Labor - EQL

In the end, it almost always reverted back to EQM once people understood what the word "Man" actually means.

You're being asked to solve a problem that doesn't exist.

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*comments removed* Remember what comments are for. For extended discussions, Get a Room (a chat room). –  enderland Sep 4 at 20:32

Unless someone else can bring any other insights to this, I have discovered the term equivalent workforce, which seems to have replaced "equivalent manpower" (supported by Google Ngrams).

As suggested by Garrison Neely in the comments, there does not appear to be an abbreviation for "equivalent workforce", but the full term is used instead.

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