Gender Genie Is Stupid

I’ve tried this gender genie thing that is supposed to guess the gender of any text’s author, and it hasn’t guessed right even a single time. I’ve tried it both on my research and on my blog posts. Of course, I haven’t tried it on everything I ever wrote. I’m sure I must have produced something “female” at some point.

The weirdest thing is that while both my research and my blog are “male writing” (whatever the hell that means), my blog is significantly more male than my research. And these results are consistent, so there must be some principle behind this madness.

I guess all that the gender genie proves is that gender is a myth. Maybe soon somebody will prove that the Earth is round and – if we are really lucky – that it revolves around the Sun.

P.S. I just checked this post in the gender genie, and here is the result:

Female Score: 115
Male Score: 273

The Gender Genie thinks the author of this passage is: male!

I’ve spent 6 hours at a spa today and my writing is still male? What else is a person supposed to do to start writing female?

33 thoughts on “Gender Genie Is Stupid

  1. Clarissa,

    There’s a theory that Asperger’s and Autistic Spectrum Disorder are an extreme form of the male brain. Simon Baron-Cohen has done some work on this here: http://www.autismresearchcentre.com/docs/papers/1999_BC_extrememalebrain.pdf.

    I don’t know how much I agree with this theory (I simply haven’t done enough research on it), but perhaps it may have something to do with the fact that your writing keeps getting false positives for “maleness.”

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  2. This must be your male Asperger brain showing. When you blog you get all emotional and this brings out your maleness. As opposed to the cool rationality of the female mind. Oh wait Aspergers do not have emotions so I guess this kills the theory. 😛

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  3. I’ve done this experiment, too.

    When I did it, I tested lots of different blog posts based on subject matter, including my science posts, my autobiographical posts and my literary posts. (I had the tentative hypothesis that Gender Genie would think a man wrote my science posts, but that a woman had written my personal and literary ones.)

    Here are the results I got:

    Science posts (average scores for 9 posts):
    Male Score: 2181
    Female Score: 1485

    Literary criticism/book review posts (average of 7)
    Male Score: 2219
    Female Score: 1575

    Autobiographical posts (average of 8)
    Male Score: 1424
    Female Score: 1515

    So it thinks I’m a dude, too.

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  4. I tried it too, same method as Lindsay, my literary/personal posts came up as “female”, and my more autism-oriented posts came up as “male”. On a related note, I got rather peeved today because someone linked one of my autism-related posts from their personal page, and consistently referred to me, the author, as “he” and “him”.
    I always wonder what hyper-male brain pushers would think of my autistic, theoretical physicist transgender girlfriend.

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  5. I can understand studying gender patterns in language with body languages, phrases, etc. For example, women, when speaking, tend to say “do you know what I mean?” more, and that has been interpreted as meaning that women are more interested in a collaborative exchange of dialogue – rather than men who often talk at rather than with someone. Okay that’s interesting. But its still an interpretive soft science. However, it is a huge leap from that to this. Not only is this taking words it has created algorithms for and ascribing masculine/feminine (gender) values (for no apparent reason: words such as “what” “are” and “who” are masculine?) – it then confuses socially determined gender with biologically determined sex (male/female) so that a speaker (or text) who uses a “masculine” word becomes a “male”. That just seems ridiculous in at least 5 ways.

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    1. “I can understand studying gender patterns in language with body languages, phrases, etc. For example, women, when speaking, tend to say “do you know what I mean?” more, and that has been interpreted as meaning that women are more interested in a collaborative exchange of dialogue – rather than men who often talk at rather than with someone”

      -Yes, I heard this and it is such a wild exaggeration that it cannot possibly have any scientific value.

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  6. It is always convinced all my writing is male. I think it thinks this of anyone who has been to school. If your writing is grammatical and organized it is tagged male.

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    1. Dammit, I lost that race -.-

      Words: 801

      Female Score: 1641
      Male Score: 1566
      The Gender Genie thinks the author of this passage is: female!

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  7. Lol. I tried this a while back. Apparently I’m more often female than male. Can’t say I mind that.
    I think toys like this are fun to play around with (though this particular one is very primitive) but things get bad when people start taking them seriously and accepting the results as …(is it snowing here?)… valid or indicative. They’re not.

    I’m confident that I could have done a better job building such an app. Certainly I would have included a lot more variables such as length of sentences, grammar, acronyms and shorthand etc. There is a lot one can study in styles of writing and I’m sure you can come up with a pattern that points towards a certain gender within a certain region and culture. But just taking a hand full of words from a basic frequency analysis is kind of dumb.

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  8. BLOG
    Female Score: 351
    Male Score: 644
    The Gender Genie thinks the author of this passage is: male!

    book
    Female Score: 281
    Male Score: 397

    The key word analysis thingy doesn’t make any sense to me. I mean I grasp how they worked it, but it seems quite odd to me. then again, I’m not a linguist so WTF do I know?

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  9. Everything I write is male too (blog and dissertation chapters). But there’s a bright side–if the gender genie decides that my blog post about baking cookies (with a reference to “my husband”) is male, that means it supports gay marriage, right? 🙂 Of course, as a linguist of sorts, and one who has studied gender differences in language (which are NOT predictive or exclusive), I think the methodology behind this is pure crap, even if it’s kind of fun to play with and poke fun at it.

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  10. This is from one of my blog entries:

    Female Score: 644
    Male Score: 814
    The Gender Genie thinks the author of this passage is: male!

    Curiously, many people tell me my handwriting is feminine. In fact, one colleague once refused to believe that a note I had written asking to ask her to please let a student add a class had been written by me. She told the student that the note was clearly written by a woman. This was in the days before email.

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  11. Apparently I am male when I write papers, I could either be male or female when I write first drafts, and part of the final copy of my play said that I’m female.

    Now I’m just confused.

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  12. Gender genie thinks Im a woman too!

    I’ve submitted both school papers and nonfiction writing that I’ve done, both register fairly conclusively as female, i guess.

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  13. It seems to go back and forth on my posts. What bugs me is that there’s no button to let gender genie know if it was right or not – then they could use that to (potentially, assuming there’s any real difference to analyze) improve their scoring guide.

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