Musings of a Dinosaur

A Family Doctor in solo private practice; I may be going the way of the dinosaur, but I'm not dead yet.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Do You Write Like a Man or a Woman?

Found via a post at Forward Motion, my online writing community (where I've been merely lurking for way too long now:)


Copy and paste a block of text into the box. Indicate whether it's fiction, non-fiction or a blog entry (although commenters at FM have experimented and found no difference in scoring depending on which is chosen) and then click "submit." There's a note that it works best on selections greater than 500 words.

You end up with numeric male and female scores based on what they consider masculine and feminine key words (different in different languages) along with a color coded version of your text with the key words highlighted. The Genie makes its male/female guess on whichever score is higher, but it's also interesting to compare passages with larger or smaller spreads between the two scores.

Evaluating its accuracy (ie, the rate at which it correctly identifies the gender of a particular piece's author) I leave as an exercise for the amusement of others. For what it's worth, I think writing in such a way as to equalize the M/F scores would be an interesting goal.

8 Comments:

At Tue Feb 20, 10:11:00 PM, Blogger Bardiac said...

There's an argument made by some critics (Helene Cixous, especially; see "ecriture feminine" http://www.english.uwosh.edu/core/ecriture-feminine.htm) that female writing is essentially different from male writing because it comes from the female body. It's a problematic argument and is based not (as in this program) on word choice, but on structures of sentences, paragraphs, etc.

Virginia Woolf argues in *A Room of One's Own* that the best authors are, indeed, androgynous, so maybe you're aiming in the right direction. She's more interested in the subject matter writers take up, rather than in sentence structure or word choice per se.

On the other hand, if you look at the keywords this program chooses, you'll see that the object of what's written about would be a huge indicator of the outcome of the analysis. It puts "her," "she," and "hers," for example, as feminine keywords. That would mean, though, that a man writing about a woman would likely come up feminine. The words valued as masculine include "the," "a," "it," and "said."

It seems unlikely to be a valid instrument without a lot of tweaking in terms of class/educational level, region, and so forth.

 
At Tue Feb 20, 10:22:00 PM, Anonymous Pine Baroness said...

That was really fun. I put several samples of my writing in and in each case it came out male, which I am not!

I put in a sample of my BF's writing to his family, and it came out female.

Maybe this is why we get along so well?

 
At Sat Feb 24, 09:44:00 PM, Blogger Nick said...

The Gender Genie was covered in Nature a few years back (and thus, I blogged it).

I still wonder about using this sometimes, when the anonymous bloggers I interview leave their gender ambiguous...

But you're right, when my colleagues at Medgadget discovered the Genie, we learned we're all male but I'm the most androgynous writer of our crew. Suits me fine.

 
At Sun Feb 25, 11:30:00 AM, Blogger The MSILF said...

Huh. All mine come out male.

 
At Sun Feb 25, 10:52:00 PM, Blogger TheTundraPA said...

So, #1 Dino...how did yours come out? {smile}

 
At Mon Feb 26, 06:22:00 AM, Blogger #1 Dinosaur said...

TPA: Mostly wrong.

 
At Mon Feb 26, 08:02:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is fun! I submitted two blog entries and one came out male and one came out female. On both occasions it was a close-run thing.

 
At Sat Mar 03, 09:06:00 PM, Anonymous Sad Alberta said...

The 3 I put in were all wrong by a long shot. But then again BBC says I am a boy too (http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/humanbody/sex/add_user.shtml)

... at least I date men that come out as girls on these things, right?

 

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