I understand the backlash against using female as a noun when referring to women. It sounds dehumanizing and makes me cringe. For me, this is because the first time I heard it was on DS9 where Quark would occasionally sneer “females” in a highly derisive manner and since then, the types of people I’ve seen use it have also tended to be sexist assholes.
However, there seems to be a minor trend for the last decade or so to use woman and women in place female - including as an adjective which to my ear sounds super awkward and tortured.
Today for example, Solicitor General Verrilli in front of SCOTUS said:
If you’re a woman employee, you go to your regular doctor, you say you have a medical condition that puts me at risk of being pregnant, or I just want contraceptive coverage, or I need contraception to treat a medical condition … the doctor has to say, ‘I cannot help you with that.’
That just feels wrong. It certainly can be considered grammatically correct. We use nouns as adjectives all the time such as with news reporter or history teacher, but would anyone ever start off a sentence with, “If you’re a man employee”?
Is this just a case of not hearing this form enough for it to be normalized or is this something that deserves to be scorned?