These bold professionals are forging ahead in their careers, thinking outside of the box, spurring innovation, and making the future brighter. They may have different backgrounds, different obligations, different management styles... but they all share in common one thing: the same biological sex classification. They are females.
There are classifications other than biological sex that we could use to segment professionals into different categories. For instance, assuming proportionate representation of left-handed people in the professional ranks, one might observe that 85 percent of Fortune 500 executives are right-handed. Or, as one study suggests, 43 percent of executives are first-born children in their families. Alternatively, we could segment professionals by their ear lobes - connected or detached. The possibilities are endless.
Yet, we never hear anyone say, "This is Joe, our new left-handed CEO." So why is it okay to say "lady advisor," "female doctor," or "woman engineer?" The short answer is that it's a way to highlight difference from an expected norm. The fact that women are women should be obvious enough to make such verbal acknowledgement perfunctory. It is prudent to keep in mind that jobs bestowed with such verbal qualifiers represent unchartered or relatively new territory for women... maybe even hostile territory. And women holding such positions are probably fighting uphill battles for respect, power, and legitimacy.
Some rarely spoken words: "Sue is a lady teacher. Jill is a female nurse." We socially expect women to be teachers and nurses, not nuclear physicists and tech gurus. Whether gender-conforming or deviant, ideally everyone has the freedom to pursue the occupational path they wish. We shouldn't be in the business of putting people in boxes, labelled as different if they choose to push boundaries.
Don't single people out because of personal attributes they cannot control - sex, race/ethnicity, sexuality, dis/ability, etc. Refrain from highlighting their features that don't "belong," in whatever sense of belonging you may have intentionally or unintentionally internalized. Noting obvious difference is rarely uplifting; in fact, it's often the opposite (a caveat - saying, "This is Rhonda, our Rhodes Scholar HR Director is totally A-OK). Keep in mind that the prerequisite for earning any professional title is hard work, and rarely ever XX chromosomes.
Go forth and prosper, lady professionals!