Thursday, 28 August 2008

Gender Identification

So, this is an interesting site (h/t to Dover Bitch). The idea is that you paste in a sample of your writing (fiction, non-fiction, or blog post), and it will attempt to determine your gender.

Never one to be insecure about an internet program misidentifying my genitalia (not that it's an issue that crops up all that much), I stepped up to the challenge.

On my blog posts, it did pretty well. By pretty well I mean that of the ten posts I gave it for analysis, nine of them came back as being written by a male (apparently my objecting to McCain's constant playing of the POW card made me sound feminine). Of course, the distinction between what constitutes as a blog post and what constitutes non-fiction is somewhat vague. It's at least arguable that my X-Men articles and the second piece I wrote on Midnight Nation (three of the former and the latter all being included in the ten above) are closer to being non-fiction. That's not a value judgment, I just think that maybe the Gender Genie (which sounds like something very different to what it turns out to be) might be expecting a bit more... personal expression in a blog post.

Regardless, since I'm a serious researcher and junk, I figured I'd give it some non-fiction by sticking in the progress report I wrote back at the end of my first year. I also gave it Time-homogeneous birth-death processes with probability intervals and absorbing state (minus the diagrams; I assume no amount of equilateral triangles is liable to change anyone's opinion as to my sexual identity). I figured this would be interesting, since although I did all the necessary research, and handled all the editorially mandated changes, the original draft was written almost entirely by the dear departed Dr P, very much of the female persuasion.

GG decided both articles had a female bent. I have no idea what to take from that, except that considering with and if "feminine keywords" is somewhat questionable when talking about a mathematics paper.

In fact, the keywords in general are very interesting. "Below", for example, is a masculine keyword. Why? Something to do with over-representation of men in business where they're always worried about being below something? There's a whole article in that, though I won't be the one to write it.

Finally, I handed GG some of my stories. This turned out exactly the way I was expecting, given the keyword system. I picked four stories, two short, two significantly longer. Each of the two pairs had one story with a man as the lead character, the other a woman (well, Gifts sort of flits between two main character, but it's mainly from a woman's perspective). All four came back with the adjudication that the writer shared the protagonist's gender.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying I've wasted the morning. Still, kept me interested. It also revealed that I need to write more fiction from the female viewpoint, as there's currently a fairly obvious skew.

Oh, and GG considers this post to have been typed by a man. What a relief.

2 comments:

BigHead said...

According to Gender Genie:

I am a man when...

- being critical of other decision theorists
- writing gamebooks

I am marginally male when...

- writing about counterfactual decision making
- writing about RPG rules (without reference to vampires)
- writing in first person about an ass-kicking elf chick

I am female when...

- writing pretty much all other maths
- writing in third person about an ass-kicking elf chick
- writing about vampires

Other random things I threw into it to see what I got out:

The Blood Bowl rulebook is exceptionally male.

The lyrics of epic metal band Rhapsody of Fire are exceptionally male.

The lyrics of symphonic metal band Within Temptation are balanced when written by Robert and Sharon, but very male when just written by Sharon.

This reply is apparently male, but there aren't enough words in it.

I can tell I am going to have more fun with this tool than is at all sensible.

Besh wishes,
BigHead

SpaceSquid said...

I like that your ass-kicking elf chick thinks more masculinely than she acts, and that for some reason the system thinks counterfactual decision making is less girly than is average for maths, when we all know the exact opposite is true.