6 Female vs Male Sign Fun Facts

What are the Symbols for Male & Female Gender? Comparison of Female vs Male Sign. Their History and Evolution.
female vs male sign

Society is built upon biological sex representation, and hence two different symbols are used for the traditionally recognized sexes. The female is represented by ♀ while the male is represented by ♂ symbol. Earlier the reason for choosing the female vs male sign was very mythical and fancy. Later on, scientists provided reasons for these different gender symbols. Read below to learn more about these symbols and their usage.

1. Male vs Female Symbol Meaning by Claude de Saumaise

According to French scholar Claude de Saumaise, these symbols have been derived from the contractions in Greek scripts which contain the names of the planets. The male sign ♂ is the first letter of the word Thouros when written in Greek. And, Thouros is the Greek name for the planet Mars. Similarly, the female sign ♀ is the first letter of the word Phosphoros when written in Greek. And Phosphoros is the Greek name for planet Venus. This female vs male sign fun fact led to the book title Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus by Jonh Gray.

2. Female vs Male Sign Meaning by Joseph Justus Scaliger

Joseph Justus Scaliger was a French Calvinist and religious leader, who described female vs male signs. His derivations of these symbols was considered fanciful & interesting.

  • The male symbol ♂ resembles a shield and a spear. Since spear and shield are used in war, therefore it is a symbol of the God of war, Ares. This is a typical expectation from males, i.e., men are expected to be brave, strong, and warring.
  • Female sign ♀ looks like a mirror with a handle. Since the mirror is considered to be mostly used and adored by females, hence, is associated with the Goddess of beauty, Aphrodite. This Goddess represents that women are expected to be beautiful and soft.

3. Change of Symbols into Shapes

  • The use of shapes as symbols of male and female originated from the kinship diagrams in anthropology as first recorded in Morgan’s System of Consanguinity and Affinity of Human Family in 1871.
  • Later, a special system known as W.H.R. River System was used, in which large letters denoted males while smaller letters were for females.
  • And when algebraic expressions were mentioned then the numerator was used to denote male while the denominator denotes the female.
  • Additionally, in the C.G Seligman dance diagram introduced in 1910, the females were denoted by outlined circles, and males were denoted by shaded circles. (See What are the symbols of home?)

4. Squares & Circles as Signs

Female vs Male signs evolved into the shapes of squares and circles in the pedigree charts, used in both Biology and Anthropology. Pliny Early, a physician who worked at an Asylum for Insane is given the credit for this representation. He did so while describing the inheritance of color blindness in his family. He used these shapes only because there was no other printer symbol he could use for his purpose. Thereon, this easy usage of shapes stuck.

The symbols have been used inversely too, i.e., circle for men and square for women, as these shapes seem to represent masculinity and femininity, as seen in some genealogy illustrations of Turko-Mongol rulers centuries ago. (Also see What are these symbols called in English, ~, `, #, ^, *, -, {}, [], ‘, “, /, ?)

female vs male sign equality

5. Usage of Female vs Male Signs in Chemistry

Earlier, people believed that everything was influenced by the movement of planets like the growth of plants or the change of seasons. Hence, Babylonians followed the concept of naming the heavenly bodies in association with the Gods & Planets. (Also read 10 Most Popular Zodiac Signs In Astrology)

Similarly, signs and symbols were named in chemistry metaphorically. Gold was considered the purest metal of all and was associated with the Sun. The metal Iron was harder and hence was associated with Mars and masculinity. Hence, the symbol of male was given to Iron. Likewise, copper is a softer metal as compared to other metals, hence is associated with Venus and femininity. Therefore, it was given the symbol of the female.

6. Current Usage of These Symbols

The gendered signs evolved into pictograms that are found on the bathroom doors in public places like subways, hotels, restaurants, etc. Moreover, since the 1970s, with the progress of the intersectional feminist movements, these binary symbols are being modified and colored to represent groups across the gender and sexual orientation spectrum. More symbols have also been added, which have now become a sign of empowerment. For instance, the Greek symbol lambda λ, adopted by the Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) of New York.

To sum it up, female vs male signs along with other symbols have evolved through time and have been included in astronomy, alchemy, chemistry, pharmacy, and botany.

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