It is a popular misconception  that the term "woman" is etymologically connected to "womb". The Venus symbol also represented femininity , and in ancient alchemy stood for copper. Alchemists constructed the symbol from a circle representing spirit above an equilateral cross representing matter.
The word woman can be used generally, to mean any female human or specifically, to mean an adult female human as contrasted with girl. The word girl originally meant "young person of either sex" in English;  it was only around the beginning of the 16th century that it came to mean specifically a female child.
In particular, previously common terms such as office girl are no longer widely used. Conversely, in certain cultures which link family honor with female virginity , the word girl is still used to refer to a never-married woman; in this sense it is used in a fashion roughly analogous to the obsolete English maid or maiden.
Referring to an unmarried female human as a woman may, in such a culture, imply that she is sexually experienced, which would be an insult to her family. The term "womanhood" merely means the state of being a woman, having passed the menarche ; "femininity" is used to refer to a set of typical female qualities associated with a certain attitude to gender roles ; "womanliness" is like "femininity", but is usually associated with a different view of gender roles; "femaleness" is a general term, but is often used as shorthand for "human femaleness"; "distaff" is an archaic adjective derived from women's conventional role as a spinner, now used only as a deliberate archaism ; "muliebrity" is a neologism derived from the Latin meant to provide a female counterpart of " virility ", but used very loosely, sometimes to mean merely "womanhood", sometimes "femininity" and sometimes even as a collective term for women.
History The earliest women whose names are known through archaeology include: She may have been ruler of Egypt in her own right.
Other known pre-Sargonic queens of the first Lagash dynasty include Menbara-abzu, Ashume'eren, Ninkhilisug, Dimtur, and Shagshag, and the names of several princesses are also known. During her husband's absence, she ruled as regent of Mari and enjoyed extensive administrative powers as queen. Note that both models have partially shaved body hair. In terms of biology , the female sex organs are involved in the reproductive system, whereas the secondary sex characteristics are involved in nurturing children or, in some cultures, attracting a mate.
The ovaries , in addition to their regulatory function producing hormones, produce female gametes called eggs which, when fertilized by male gametes sperm , form new genetic individuals. The uterus is an organ with tissue to protect and nurture the developing fetus and muscle to expel it when giving birth.
The vagina is used in copulation and birthing, although the term vagina is often colloquially and incorrectly used in the English language for the vulva or external female genitalia, which consists of in addition to the vagina the labia , the clitoris , and the female urethra. The breast evolved from the sweat gland to produce milk, a nutritious secretion that is the most distinctive characteristic of mammals, along with live birth.
In mature women, the breast is generally more prominent than in most other mammals; this prominence, not necessary for milk production, is probably at least partially the result of sexual selection. For other ways in which men commonly differ physically from women, see man. As in cases without two sexes, such as species that reproduce asexually , the gender-neutral appearance is closer to female than to male.
A fetus usually develops into a male if it is exposed to a significant amount of testosterone typically because the fetus has a Y chromosome from the father. Otherwise, the fetus usually develops into a female, typically when the fetus has an X chromosome from the father, but also when the father contributed neither an X nor Y chromosome.
Later at puberty, estrogen feminizes a young woman, giving her adult sexual characteristics. This contrasts with the typical male karotype of 46,XY; thus, the X and Y chromosomes are known as female and male, respectively. Because humans inherit mitochondrial DNA only from the mother's ovum, genetic studies of the female line tend to focus on mitochondrial DNA. At birth, babies may be assigned a gender based on their genitalia. In some cases, even if a child had XX chromosomes, if they were born with a penis, they were raised as a male.
Women typically have a longer life expectancy than men.