You may not even realize how often people use the term 'you guys' in their every day vernacular, even when referring to a group of ladies. It feels like everywhere you turn, someone is using the term 'you guys' with the main offenders being restaurant hosts, servers and bartenders. The words "Are you guys ready to order?", "Have you guys made a choice yet?" or "Can I show you guys to your table?" are being uttered in almost constant succession in restaurants across the United States. While you may not be offended by the term, the lack of gender neutrality should at least raise an eyebrow, especially when spending money on service. Words are big part of service, most restaurants bring the ice tea that is ordered. It is the way guests are treated that is the defining factor.
If this phrase is used to reference a group of males, then all is well. It is when there is a female contingency amongst the group that the term begins to lose its valor. For females, when they are younger, this term rarely gets noticed. Being referred to as 'you guys' implies a group dynamic that younger individuals are often eager to be a part of. Yet as a woman matures, being referred to as 'you guys' starts to lose its charm. By the time a woman is advancing in her career or bearing children of her own, the term starts to become downright preposterous.
As this term has become better accepted by society, many people may even agree that 'you guys' is a gender-neutral term; that is simply silly. Even if the term is thought of as harmless, if you tried calling out to a group of mixed company 'you gals' or 'you girls', chances are that you will not receive a positive response. Also, if someone asked a group of people if only the guys could step forward, chances are not a single female would move a foot. There are sexual connotations behind the term that simply cannot be overlooked.
Sure, the ease in use of the term 'you guys' is not lost. It allows one to call out to a collective group of both males and females in two quick words. Much easier than saying something as uncool as "Hey you males and females, do you want a drink?" or "Hey men and women, we are ready to be seated". There are several less gender-specific terms--why not start by trying out the term, 'folks'?
For the south, the term 'you guys' occurs with slightly less frequency. This is because Southerners have embraced the less gender specific term of y'all as well as seem to retain a greater respect for women, using "Ma'am." While this contraction rarely makes it above the Mason Dixon Line and often serves as folly in Hollywood movie scripts, there is something to be said for having a term that addresses the plurality of a group while avoiding any gender specifics. Up north, 'you guys' has an even more crude variation of 'yous guys'. Not only does this drive women crazy, it is just bad English.
If nothing else, women need to start speaking up for their gender. Who wants to be blindly lumped in with the males anyway? Would men accept "you girls ready to order?" This is a case where girl power is encouraged. As a start, if restaurants would simply curtail their wait staff from referring to a group, unless it only features men, as 'you guys', then a major step forward will be made in this small detail. As restaurant customers, don't be afraid to speak up. On the rare occasions my wife and I dine in finer restaurants (three kids have curtailed that) I will tell the server directly, "My wife is not a guy, please don't refer to her as one."