Male or Female Mystery Solved

What Was The Connector Gender?

We were puzzled and resorted to posing the puzzle to you. Could you identify the gender of these connectors? Over 3,000 stepped up to the challenge and the results of our survey are in. It's official... we have a winner!... Or do we?

power jack and plug

Number of Votes
Number of Votes

Male and Female Connector Challenge Over 3,000 readers supplied us with their flavor of wisdom. And by a narrow margin, Jack (shown here on the right) was voted female and the plug (left) as male. As though to continue to confuse us, the most repeated answer was: gender is determined by the center conductor, or as one well spoken reader put it, "centermost, centermost, centermost". We asked, you answered. But we're still doing a little head scratching.

Jack is "female" and Plug is "male" 52.0% 1630
Jack is "male" and Plug is "female" 48.0% 1506
Answered Question 3136

Here are some of the highlights from the responses of our creative community.


  • Go with the inner most part.
  • Go with the outward appearance.
  • Active or hot pin defines the sex. The barrel is the ground or low side return.
  • Actually I would say they are inter-sexed. The "plug" being predominately male but with female characteristics and the "jack" being predominantly female with male characteristics.
  • Actually the POWER source connector should always be protected and by convention should be the FEMALE connector (not exposed to accidental shorts, etc.).
  • Almost all users will look at the housing to determine the gender.
  • Although the plug has a female type center configuration. It is fully inserted into the jack and therefore the male component. The jack predominately surrounds the plug and therefore the female component.
  • Any connector that has pins or prongs, no matter how it is housed, is a male.
  • Board or panel mounted receptacles tend to be viewed as female. Connectors on the end of leads are typically noted as male.
  • By convention, the jack is male as it has a protruding connector.
  • Call it only JACK and PLUG (avoid male / female)
  • Center conductor controls. If it's an 'outie' it's male, if it's an 'innie' it's female, end of story.
  • Don't confuse pins and sockets with male and female housings.
  • Female has the power (opening to protect), male is powerless (metal parts exposed). Same is true in humans, females have the power, men don't.
  • For BNC connectors and such (going back to WW II), the active pins define the male gender, not the housing. Confusing but consistent.
  • I changed my mind 3 times on this one. The active 'pin' is in the jack.
  • I tend to rely on the WW II military (I think, anyway) designation - the sex is determined by the outer shell as connectors may have a mix of pins and sockets. The D-sub is a clear violation of this old rule.
  • An inserting pin is male, of course there is no accounting for manufacturer's mis-nomer or engineer slip-up

Not as helpful, but worth publishing:

  • I have 36yrs as an engineer, and this issue is still confusing.
  • Easy one!
  • Seems clear
  • Bigger is better
  • Hope that some day the industry will make a decision and stick with it.
  • Plug looks like a, um, er, you know...
  • Oh nice! A hermaphrodite plug. It was only a matter of time.
  • Didn't your mommy tell you about this stuff?
  • You don't need no stinking comments.
  • I am, of course, right.
  • Jack is a guys' name.
  • I ain't no doctor, but I do play one on TV.
  • "Plug" is male, on the end of a chord i.e. leash, can go anywhere and connect with similar "Jacks". "Jack" is female, is permanently attached to an immobile surface i.e. home and waits around for a male plug to provide service.
  • Transgender plugs: Jack started life as a female, while Plug started life as a male. They are now legally opposite.
  • A fellow electronics teacher used to put it this way "the source of power is always the female". I never argue with her.
  • As if Federal legislation has not already caused sufficient gender confusion.
  • Bi Connectors?
  • BNC connectors can create same confusion. Maybe another descriptor is necessary: circumcised and uncircumcised?
  • Clearly this is further evidence that the whole gender neutral thing was a commie plot foisted upon us years ago by the former Soviet Union with the intent to eventually confuse us about which part goes where.
  • DB-9 & 15 connectors will haunt my sleep tonight...
  • Gender Confusion is not limited to humans
  • I have been told the little short thing is the wiener!
  • I have to wonder if this is a clever joke of engineering that only those familiar with such components would find funny... as these connectors are totally in drag!
  • I think we need to be open to transgender connectors!
  • I used to be so certain about this, but now you've cast doubt into my life. Who's to say what's right and wrong anymore? Male, female, why even try? My world is in a tailspin. Why, Jameco, why?! How could you?!
  • If Jack was a female it would be Jill.
  • If you don't know, you're screwed!!
Another sympathetic reader connected (no pun intended) us with some definitive detail.

N Female Connector

BNC Male Connecto

BNC Female Connector

Thanks to everyone for contributing to our education.
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