A study of gender-marking in contemporary French. This study will take the form of (1) an article examining the linguistic mechanisms which allow for clear distinctions based on sex, and comparing these mechanisms to those actually used; and (2) an essay focusing on language planning. Gender—the set of morpho-syntactic devices by means of which a language is supposed to include sex-based distinctions—pervades the very fabric of French: all nouns without exception are marked for gender, whether they refer to animate beings or not. Because of its structural omnipresence, gender-marking in French has always lent itself to the normative, pedagogically-oriented discourse of traditional grammar. It has, on the other hand, received scant or at best piecemeal attention from linguists aiming at an objective, systematic and principled account of the language. The significance of this project, however, should go beyond the boundaries of theoretical morphology and syntax. Albeit to lesser extent than in English- speaking countries, linguistic stereotyping and "grammatical sexism" are widely debated issues in francophone countries, both inside and outside the feminist movement. In Quebec and in France, there has been some limited degree of institutional intervention in that area, affecting mainly the terminology of occupations. But the structural predominance of masculine over feminine forms remains intact in the linguistic consciousness of speakers. There is a crucial need for comprehensive and scientific studies that will tackle the very complex and intricate ramifications of attempts at reform as well as the practicability of such reform and the various strategies that may be contemplated on the basis of what we know about language-planning.