Sunday, September 14, 2003

Gender and Writing Style

Gender, Genre and Writing Style in Formal Written Texts (PDF, 32 pages)

I'm not done reading it, but it's interesting so far, and I'm intrigued by a couple of different possiblities.

  1. The impact of blogging, a typically 'conversational' style, on male and female writing styles overall.
  2. The impact of formal education in different schools of thought on writing style (i.e., literary criticism v. philosophy v. physics), and how they may in turn be weighted due to the gender distribution in those fields.

There's a site called Gender Genie that uses a simplified version of the algorithm described in the above text to predict your gender (take it). I took it with four different entries from this blog, and got male, then female, male, male. I haven't seen the implementation code, but there's a feminine-keyword count and a masculine-keyword count that appears to be the basis for this assessment.

One of the things that is non-obvious to me is how a keyword gets gender-marked in the first place. (Perhaps this is discussed in the paper, as I said, I've not finished it.)

Hm. What does it mean to write like a woman? What does it mean to write like a man? A white? A black? A heterosexual? A homosexual? A college graduate? A blue-collar worker?

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