The male blogger (well, just about)

Yesterday someone drew my attention to an interesting website, Genderanalyzer. This allows you to enter a URL of a blog site, and it will assess the text and tell you whether it was written by a man or a woman. So of course I let it have a go at this blog, and this is what it came up with: ‘We guess is written by a man (54%), however it’s quite gender neutral.’ Far from feeling this violates my masculinity, I am rather pleased with that verdict.

But then I wondered what else I might let it assess. How about Barack Obama’s famous Chicago victory speech, ‘yes we can’? Well, no doubt about that at all – though perhaps Obama’s fame is such that the software already knew him; at any rate, it concluded that ‘we have strong indicators that [the speech] is written by a man (98%).’ Hillary Clinton also is true to her gender, if not quite as definitively: her speech to the Democratic Convention last year was very likely ‘written by a woman (87%)’. Our own Taoiseach Brian Cowen, facing all his challenges, is much more borderline; when he introduced the paper on Building Ireland’s Smart Economy, his maleness was only 62%. But then again, when his predecessor Bertie Ahern addressed the National Forum on Europe a year ago, he was only 54% male, just like your current blogger.

Stereotypes come through fine: Sky Sports’ Andy Gray writing about Sam Allardyce’s appointment as manager of Blackburn Rovers is 99% male, bless him (though you’d have to wonder about the missing 1%). But then again, what’s this – the wonderful Nigella Lawson is, ahem, 74% male! Really?? Exactly the same result as for Margaret Thatcher’s resignation speech in 1990, but could you compare them?

What does any of this tell us? Interestingly, my 50 or so attempts to get Genderanalyzer to give a verdict on the gender of various writers and speakers was overwhelmingly accurate; the latter two are the only two it got ‘wrong’, though to be fair in Margaret Thatcher’s case I was expecting that. Some of the more borderline cases may actually be explained by the fact that I was assessing texts written for the speaker by someone else (whose gender we don’t know), or even by a team of people. But overall, it seems that gender differences as detected in speech are real enough, and on the whole that seems fine. Our task remains to ensure that this is not reflected in the way in which society creates advantages or imposes disadvantages or allows prejudices.

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6 Comments on “The male blogger (well, just about)”

  1. Irish Times Letter Writer Says:

    You really can have some fun with that one!

    “We think is written by a man (75%).”

  2. Wendymr Says:

    I ran my own online presence through that website a couple of months ago. Apparently I am 95% male. Who knew?

  3. Iain Says:

    That’s nothing. the related site analysed your blog and concluded that the classical writer you most resembled was Nietsche!

    Also, the other tool, concluded that your personality type was logical and analytical. I quote:

    “The logical and analytical type. They are especially attuned to difficult creative and intellectual challenges and always look for something more complex to dig into. They are great at finding subtle connections between things and imagine far-reaching implications.

    They enjoy working with complex things using a lot of concepts and imaginative models of reality. Since they are not very good at seeing and understanding the needs of other people, they might come across as arrogant, impatient and insensitive to people that need some time to understand what they are talking about. ”

    Complete nonsense obviously – particularly since I’m between 70-90% female (although, maybe just empathic!hah!) – but good fun for these gloomy times.

  4. Philip Says:

    We guess is written by a woman (54%), however it’s quite gender neutral.


    We guess is written by a woman (54%), however it’s quite gender neutral.

    Wrong again.

    But I’m gay so hey, maybe they’re picking up on that 🙂

  5. Hmm, it thinks I’m a woman, too. Again, though, gay.

    Creepy, creepy software.

  6. […] Ferdinand von Prondzynski’s blog (post here), this Genderanalyzer website (corpus-based, I think) considers what the gender of a web […]

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