Tag: gender

Wikipedia's a Sausage Fest, Study Says

By Veronique Greenwood | August 12, 2011 2:23 pm

sausage

Compare the extremely detailed history of baseball cards and the somewhat skeletal entry on interior decorating on Wikipedia, the Font of All Knowledge, and you’ll get a sense of what a recent paper by computer scientists concluded: Wikipedia’s primarily a creation of man, not of woman.

After a NYTimes trend piece anecdotally discussed the disparity in January, citing Wikipedia’s male-heavy geek culture roots as the source, this intrepid bunch decided to actually do the numbers, pulling the data on editors’ gender from their profile information. And indeed, of the editors who joined in 2009 and disclosed gender, only about 16% were female, and they made only 9% of the cohort’s edits. Looking at signups over time, the researchers also saw that Wikipedia’s gender gap isn’t closing, in contrast to many social media sites, where women are now more likely to participate than men. This may be because Wikipedia looks like a slightly chilly place for new female users: self-identified women were more likely to get their early edits reverted than men were.

It’s neat that we now have real numbers in the discussion of Wikipedia’s gender politics. But there are few problems with a study voluntarily disclosed information: if you’re a woman, and you’ve already begun to suspect that Wikipedia is primarily a man’s operation, why would you state your gender at all? The vast majority of editors don’t volunteer that, preferring perhaps to have their work judged by the community without having gender on the table, and one has to wonder if those who declared might not be the sort who spent a lot of time on Wikipedia in the first place.

Maybe new editors might take some time to peruse this surprisingly comprehensive entry as they contemplate joining the grilling party.

Image: Stefano A / flickr

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!

Gertie the Hen "Sex-Changes" into Bertie the Rooster

By Patrick Morgan | April 19, 2011 2:46 pm

Normally, chicken-keepers don’t sweat it when their hens go through short egg-laying dry-spells. But when an egg-less hen grows a wattle in a matter of weeks and starts crowing at the rising sun, it may be time to worry. That’s what went through a British couple’s minds this past year, when their pet hen Gertie began looking and acting like a rooster.

It all started last November, when Jim and Jeanette Howard of Huntingdon, England, noticed that Gertie stopped laying eggs. “Then a few days later I heard her try to crow,” Jeanette Howard told the BBC. “She wasn’t very good at it at first, but she’s progressed nicely.” Gertie then got heavier and developed a wattle under her chin in the next few weeks. And as her feathers grew back during her molt, they were a darker brown than before. Sporting a scarlet cockscomb and a rooster-like strut, Gertie is now outwardly indistinguishable from a cockerel. Read More

MORE ABOUT: gender, genetics, hormones, sex

Do Men Get Struck By Lightning More Than Women?

By Brett Israel | September 22, 2009 12:32 pm

lightning_webMen make up a whopping 82 percent of the 648 people that were killed by lightning in the U.S. from 1995 to 2008. Dudes, what gives?

Apparently, standing outside during a lightning storm with a metal pole in your hand seems like a good idea to a lot of men.

Via Popular Science,  John Jensenius, a lightning safety expert with the National Weather Service, had this to say:

Men are less willing to give up what they’re doing just because of a little inclement weather… and will continue to engage in pastimes that make them vulnerable, such as fishing, camping and golfing. Recreational or sports-related activities are involved in almost half of all lightning-related deaths.

To put an evolutionary spin on the data, Peter Todd, a behavioral psychologist at Indiana University, said he thinks men are hard-wired to exhibit bold (stupid?) behavior to attract a mate—though unless their ideal mate is their golfing or fishing buddy, it’s not so clear how this strategy works. Are women really impressed by tales of some dope slicing into the woods during a lightning storm?

Evolutionarily speaking, you’d think men with a tendency to hang around outside during storms would have been killed off by now—and maybe that helps explain why only 648 people were killed by lightning over the past 13 years.

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Image: flickr / Axel Rouvin

Study: Talking to Hot Women Makes Men Lose Brain Function

By Melissa Lafsky | September 4, 2009 11:11 am

flirtingBreaking news! Men become less intelligent when they’re trying to impress women they’d like to sleep with! A new study in the Journal of Experimental and Social Psychology found that “men who spend even a few minutes in the company of an attractive woman perform less well in tests designed to measure brain function” than men who talked to women they didn’t want to, er, mate with.

The Telegraph reports that the study, which consisted of 40 male heterosexual students, proceeded as follows:

Each one performed a standard memory test where they had to observe a stream of letters and say, as fast as possible, if each one was the same as the one before last.

The volunteers then spent seven minutes chatting to male or female members of the research team before repeating the test.

The results showed men were slower and less accurate after trying to impress the women. The more they fancied them, the worse their score.

And how did the other sex fare? When the test was repeated with a group of female volunteers, their memory scores stayed the same regardless of whether they’d chatted with a man or a woman.

The researchers even managed to come up with a somewhat scientific theory for why this occurred:

Researchers who carried out the study…think the reason may be that men use up so much of their brain function or “cognitive resources” trying to impress beautiful women, they have little left for other tasks.

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Image: iStockphoto

Worst Science Article of The Week: Women Are Evil, and Want Your Husband

By Melissa Lafsky | August 20, 2009 11:45 am

Jealous womanOh Lord. From the Telegraph, we’d expect this. But New Scientist?

From a piece posted earlier this week:

Women: do you have a man? If you do, better beware. Chances are that some lone female has her eye on him.

A new study provides evidence for what many have long suspected: that single women are much keener on pursuing a man who’s already taken than a singleton.

The study of which they speak consisted of a survey of 184 heterosexual university students, both male and female. Half were single, and half in relationships. The entire group was told that a computer program would match them with an ideal partner.

Unbeknownst to the participants (but knownst to us), everyone was offered a “fictitious candidate partner who had been tailored to match their interests exactly.” Every woman was shown the same picture of “Mr Right,” and ditto for the men. Half the participants were told their ideal mate was single, and the other half that he or she was off the market. According to NS,

The most striking result was in the responses of single women. Offered a single man, 59 per cent were interested in pursuing a relationship. But when he was attached, 90 per cent said they were up for the chase.

The article goes on to quote the study authors’ conclusions like:

single women may be more drawn to attached men because they’ve already been “pre-screened” by other women and found to be satisfactory as a mate, whereas single men are more of an unknown quantity.

What the piece neglected to note was the fact that filling out a survey form indicating you might be willing to go after a dude is a far cry from actually going after that dude. So by logic, a small sample size of women reporting more interest in an attached man shouldn’t lead to a screaming rush of hide-your-men-crazy-zombie-mate-poachers-are-on-the-loose.

Plus, there’s also the small matter of what those photos of Mr. Right looked like, as the study authors note:

One limitation of the present study was that it used a single male and female target photo and although our pretest indicated both photos were perceived as moderately attractive, our study showed men’s attractiveness ratings for the female photo were higher than women’s ratings for the male photo.

So maybe the lede should be something more like: “If your man is not super attractive, other women may need him to be pre-screened before they’d think about going after him.”

This post has been appended from its original version.

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Image: iStockphoto

Bad Study of the Week: A Social Life Predisposes Women to Rape

By Allison Bond | June 23, 2009 4:47 pm

UPDATE: The article discussed below has since been removed from the Telegraph‘s Web site, with no word on whether the story was officially retracted. As several commenters pointed out, the sensationalism of the article differed quite a bit from the actual findings of the article. Essentially, the Telegraph makes it seem as though the study makes the scientifically dubious claim that men are insensitive sex-mongers, while women who behave a certain way encourage men to rape them. So perhaps the title of “Worst Science Article of the Week” is more in order. For more discussion of this matter, see here and here.

Outgoing women who drink socially and wear skirts, beware: You have predisposed yourself to being raped. At least, that’s what a highly questionable study headed by psychologists at the University of Leicester asserts.

The first problems lie in the study subjects, not to mention the methods: To find out the opinions of the male population (through a survey—never the most reliable of data sets) the researchers recruited 101 men from local and university soccer and rugby teams. It’s safe to say that this is not an accurate sample of a diverse male population.

Next, the researchers surveyed the subjects about “how far” they would go with a woman “before calling it a night.” For a subject as emotionally, sociologically, and politically charged as rape, a subject that has many contributing variables, these questions are somewhat of an oversimplification, not to mention potentially misleading to both respondents and researchers.

So what were the results? Here’s what the Telegraph tells us:
Read More

MORE ABOUT: bad science, gender, rape

Girl or Boy? At-Home Test Reveals Baby's Gender During Pregnancy

By Allison Bond | June 9, 2009 5:46 pm

babyIn the past, an expectant mother who wanted to know the gender of her unborn baby had to wait for a sonogram 20 weeks into her pregnancy. But now an at-home test can determine a baby’s sex only 10 weeks in, with 78 to 80 percent accuracy, according to IntelliGender, the test’s creator.

When we asked the company’s rep exactly how the test worked, we were told what we pretty much already knew: It’s an analysis of urine in which chemicals react with hormones to indicate the gender of the baby. It takes about 10 minutes for the urine sample to turn either orange (for a girl) or green (for a boy).  Interestingly, recent sexual activity can yield a false “boy” result.
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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Sex & Mating, Technology Attacks!
MORE ABOUT: baby, gender, pregnancy

Do Ten Percent of Twitter-ers Send Ninety Percent of Tweets?

By Melissa Lafsky | June 2, 2009 4:57 pm

twitterYes, according to new research out of Harvard Business Review. Study authors Bill Heil and Mikolaj Piskorski found that of their sample of 300,542 Twitter-ers, collected in May 2009, “the median number of lifetime tweets per user is one. This translates into over half of Twitter users tweeting less than once every 74 days.”

So who’s writing all the tweets? A mere 10 percent of users, say the researchers—making it a far cry from average social networks, where the top 10 percent of users create only 30 percent of the content. There’s also the possibility the numbers are being swayed by “the large number of bored-user and spam accounts” on the site, suggests Silicon Alley Insider’s Nicholas Carlson.

To top it all off, there’s apparently a nice, juicy gender divide forming on the world’s most popular micro-blog:

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!
MORE ABOUT: gender, technology, Twitter

Is Virginity Loss Really All in Your Genes?

By Boonsri Dickinson | April 3, 2009 11:53 am

sign.jpgWe blame genes for obesity, mental illness, and a host of other issues. But can they determine when we lose our virginity? Researchers are now saying yes, they can—or, at least, that’s what media reports are saying researchers are saying.

Here’s the real deal: According to a study out of California State University, our genes may play a (minor, debated) role in the age at which people first have sex.

CSU psychologist Nancy Segal looked at 48 pairs of twins who were separated at birth to see how genes influenced their sexual maturity. To compare the twins’ sexual histories, Segal had each of them take a “sexual life history interview” composed of a “sexual meaning survey, a sexual life history timeline, and a sexual behavior questionnaire.” The researchers found that most twins lost their virginity at around 19 years of age. New Scientist calls the findings “modest” at best—the genes “explain a third of the differences in the participant’s age of first intercourse.”

Of course, despite screaming headlines to the contrary, exactly how genes are linked to the loss of virginity is still thoroughly “speculative,” as Segal told DISCOVER. Other groups have pinpointed a gene—DRD4— that has been linked to age of loss of virginity.

Given all the hoopla, it’s worth asking, are these studies really linking genes and virginity at all? DRD4 is known as the “risk taking” gene? People who are risk takers also abuse alcohol and drugs or engage in delinquent behavior—virginity is only one risk-taking measure, and an arguable one at that.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Sex & Mating
MORE ABOUT: gender, genetics, sex

"Bro-mance” for Chimps? Male Apes Form Long, Lasting Friendships

By Boonsri Dickinson | January 27, 2009 4:22 pm

groom.jpgDo male chimps have BFFs? It turns out the answer is yes. Primatologists knew that male chimps formed short-term friendships, and had always assumed that these bonds might become long-term as well. Now, Michigan researchers have documented that male chimps develop close relationships with each other that can last up to seven years.

For 14 years, John Mitani, a primatologist at the University of Michigan, spent his summers observing male chimps in Uganda’s Kibale National Park. Mitani and his team named the male chimps and documented their activity closely. The chimps and their best friends shared meat, groomed each other, and made sure to get each others’ backs in fights. “[The] males were more social than females, engaged in cooperative acts, and spent time competing for females,” Mitani told DISCOVER.

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MORE ABOUT: chimps, gender, male bonding
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