Electronic – Preferences: Male or Female connector on board


On a prototyping board for use by students, should one place male (pin) headers or female headers on the PCB, considering that most of the pins will be unused most of the time.

I'm inclined to place the female headers on the PCB and have male pins attached to all cabling respectively. This way touching unused, open contacts by accident is less of an issue. But checking through catalogues (Hirose, Molex,..) I see lots of male headers for PCB mounting but few female ones.

Is my reasoning backward? What I am missing?


Considering all comments of this thread I am inclined to use male connector pins on the board. Doktor J has given a nice example of a shrouded pin header that would even provide some polarization, albeit I will probably use a 2mm pitch for compactness.

Even better if those were side-stackable, that is if I could place like 2×20 holes in a row and have shrouded connectors of different width (say either 2x 2×10, or 4x 2×5, or a single 2×20) attached. However, this is not possible with the typical box-shape shrouding.

I just discovered FCI Minitek Headers. These are side-stackable and have polarization and shrouding. I'll go with these.

Best Answer

Generally, proper design dictates that - for safety's sake - pluggable connectors supplying power do so using female contacts because, being shrouded, they're less likely to accidentally wind up causing a catastrophe when they're unplugged and hot.