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A manly woman September 19, 2013

Posted by mareserinitatis in engineering, feminism, societal commentary.
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I recently read an article about a woman, Norah Vincent, who went undercover to become a man.  It was very interesting, particularly the difficulties she had dating and the preconceived notions that were shot down in the process.  It sounds like the process was horribly stressful for her, though, so it should give us thought about how difficult it can be to actually *be* a man.  I’m impressed by her willingness to go through with the experience and try to see things from another’s point of view.

This got me thinking, however, about the fact that I spend most of my time around men.  I work with mostly men, my kids are both boys, and even a lot of my closest friends are men.

I came across a gender analyzer that looks at the text you write and tries to assess your gender.  (If you’re curious, it’s here.)  It’s interesting to me that every piece of my own writing that I analyzed ended up giving a male result.  In the notes below the analyzer, it said:

For example, a woman who has spent 20 years working in a male-dominated field may write like her co-workers. Similarly, professional female writers (and experienced hobbyists) frequently use male writing styles.

That makes sense…but it made me think about how, as an engineer, I have to pretend to be male in order to be accepted.  However, accepted and respected are two different things.  I often wonder if I would have better luck accomplishing the latter if I took notes from Norah Vincent:  maybe I need to get a buzz cut and start wearing a fake 5 o’clock shadow.

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Comments»

1. abbireads - September 19, 2013

I find this interesting. I put a couple of blog posts into the analyzer and they both came back as male as well (one of them 100%). Is this from years of work learning to write as a journalist and an historian, both of which require clarity and straight-forwardness? I don’t see these as exclusively male qualities, however, and could write more than anyone wants to read about the pitfalls of gendering writing.

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mareserinitatis - September 19, 2013

I think I once read about the algorithm that this particular software uses, and it has to do with the use of pronouns, how much one discusses others, etc. I found another such program and said I was more likely to be female, though it was just barely.

There appears to be a lot of research in this type of thing (http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn20581-genderspotting-tool-could-have-rumbled-fake-blogger.html). I imagine NSA is funding it. 🙂

In general, scientific and journalistic writing have some very strong similarities (both are formulaic in their own way) and are associated with male writers. I suspect it’s this false dichotomy that describes men as rational and women as irrational…

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2. Cop Car - September 20, 2013

Awww, come on, Cherish. You need not go out there pretending to be a male. There are too many xy-chromosomed fake men out there, already. Real men couldn’t be that afraid of women. ; )

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