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According to a paper I read some time ago for a class, words such as 女の子、女子 etc. are sometimes used for adults, where the coordinate male terms would generally not be used. Do we have some evidence for this? I'm not disinclined to believe the statement, since it fits with the literature on Language and Gender generally, but the paper didn't cite anything for this claim, so I don't feel comfortable just claiming this, without support.

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  • Could you please cite the paper? I am not well-versed on this, but I think although 子 as in あの子 can be used to refer to both (all, if we go non-binary) genders, it tends to occur more frequently with girls. This gender disparity is obvious in English, as evidenced by "girls" and "guys", e.g. "The girls are dancing with the guys from out of town."
    – Eddie Kal
    Jun 20 at 20:55
  • My notes say something about endou 1991, but I somehow can't find the source atm, it seems the paper might not be OCRed. I'll try and see if I can find it in the coming days and add it if I do.
    – Sam
    Jun 20 at 21:44
  • If your source was written in 1991, situations have changed in the 21st century. Uses of 男子 and 女子 have significantly increased since then.
    – naruto
    Jun 20 at 22:41
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男子 and 女子 are tricky words, but they are safely used for adults in certain situations. Please read this first: What are the differences between 女子{じょし}, 娘子{じょうし} and 女{おんな}の子{こ}?

Now, 女子 and 女の子 are relatively more common than 男子/男の子 when topics like fashion or romance are concerned. I think this is simply because these words tend to have a kawaii impression when they refer to adults. Still, it is not uncommon for a woman to refer to younger male adult they find cute as 男の子 (I think English speakers also use boy for similar situations). 草食男子 was a very common buzzword, too.

I don't know an academic research on the frequency, but the popularity of 女子/男子 to refer to adults is a trend recognized by many native speakers in the last few decades, as described in the linked answer above. There have been many buzzwords around this.

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  • Off the top of my head I can think of 男子トイレ as an example
    – Lucas
    Jun 21 at 1:27

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