VMware to stop describing hardware as ‘male’ and ‘female’ in new terminology guide

VMware has joined the ranks of companies issuing style guides that remove discriminatory language – though gone further than some of its peers by addressing gendered terms for hardware and virtualization-specific language.

A message about the IT giant’s “Offensive Terminology Effort,” sighted by The Register, recommends that when referring to hardware and cabling, “female” should be replaced by “jack” or “socket” while “plug” should be used instead of “male”. The company hopes that “she” and “he” will be replaced by “they”.

Recommended changes to terms commonly used when describing server virtualization include replacing “kill” with “stop”. The software developer will no longer employ the term “eviction,” used to refer to moving a virtual machine to a new host.

Also in the guide is a recommendation that the word “abort” be replaced by “stop” and that “segregate” and “segregation” be replaced by “separate” and “separation”.

As is the case at many other vendors and open-source projects, references to masters and slaves are no longer welcome.

“Blacklist” and “blackout” are out, replaced by “denylist” and “restrict”. “Black hat” is to be replaced by “unethical”, but “black box”, “black hole” and “black screen” won’t be changed.

VMware also has a list of words it is happy to keep using, namely:

  • invalid (as an adjective)
  • masterful
  • mastermind (as a noun or verb)
  • masterpiece
  • master plan
  • masterstroke
  • simple
  • white board

VMware wants to stop using three terms – “ghetto”, “kill switch” and “taint” – but is yet to devise alternatives.

Virtzilla is far from alone in suggesting these changes: Splunk, the Linux kernel, Google, and many others have done likewise in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. The Register has not, however, seen other such guides address hardware or the word “abort”, which is, of course, a loaded term in the USA.

The document we have seen does not indicate how or when VMware intends to implement the guide internally. The Register has inquired after those details and will update this story if and when we receive a substantive response. ®

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