Do you write like a man or a woman?

Hacker Factor  Gender GuesserI happened upon this site, Gender Guesser at Hack Factor, the other day. Being I never gave much thought to gender roles as a writer (I often head hop into characters, both male and female), I figured I’d give it a go.

Two samples of fiction turned up a ‘male’ results. Factors the system considers includes the use of words like ‘and’ and gender specific keywords such as ‘was’ and ‘is’ as female, and ‘the’ and ‘it’ as male.

I’m not sure how they made that conclusion.

Whatever the results, I feel they are just plain biased. First of all, labeled as one or the other as ‘weak’ already shows bias against a gender, not a writing style. Weak writing should be seen as weak writing and only weak writing- not female or male.

Oddly, I’m often mistaken for male online. My guess it has more to do with my online name as Frootbat31. One guy explained he thought I was male because “what female would pick a bat as her avatar?”. Um, me, apparently.

A fellow chatter once explained his reason of assuming my being male had something to with my humor and style of talking. Perhaps it has that element my son told me the other day, how I have a ‘take-no-crap’ attitude?

I think the real issue should focus on weak writing versus strong writing, and how we, as writers, need to practice the strong writing. Labeling as one gender ties into all sorts of nature  versus nurture arguments, and I think in this modern age, we can recognize there’s exceptions to every rule.

If the gender guesser assumes you’re female, reread your stuff and highlight any words such as ‘is, was, were, should, should’. Find stronger verbs to describe the action, or even delete them. “We were late to the party” can easily be shifted to “We arrived late to the party”.

Personally, I feel I write like a PERSON and am satisfied with that.

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8 Comments

Filed under Editing, Handy Links and Resources

8 responses to “Do you write like a man or a woman?

  1. I tried it too, got a “male” on one piece, and a “Weak Female” on the other. I hope I’m just writing like ME! Thanks though, interesting.

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  2. Junx

    I get ‘you write like a man’. It bugs me, really. I dunno what it means. Do they mean to denigrate? Is it a barb? I’ve heard ‘I would never read a man’s writing – waste of time’, in the next breath from one female friend. Why? Is something wrong male writing? Not good? Not… what? I actually write pretty well, in fact. I don’t know what it means to write ‘like a man’. I’m a woman, so I think ‘I write like a woman, do I not’?

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    • I find the issue of ‘male’ or ‘female’ has more to do with writing style, based on this idea that men stick with action and facts, while women write more with feeling and metaphor. This may have been true in past years, but I don’t think its true for modern day men and women writers. imho

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  3. Anonymous

    I stumbled upon your blog and I was looking for tools like this gender guesser. But I don’t think by “Weak Female,” it means that you are literally a weak, uncertain female, as stereotypically portrayed. I input some of my writing and it was almost 50/50 for me. By “Weak,” I believe it refers to how strongly you write like one gender. I tried another few sentences I wrote, and it showed only male or female, without the “weak” label. So if your results turn up 100% male, you’d be a “male.” But if it was more even on both sides, you’d be more androgynous and slightly, barely, or in this case, “weakly” towards one gender or another.

    Just wanted to point it out, ’cause I don’t think the Gender Guesser sees females as weak. (Sorry for the bother)

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    • thanks for the comment! I always appreciate folks who can think outside the box and point out ways of seeing things. Yes, I think you’re right in the explanation. I wish they’d choose other words, however. Even the male versus female thing leans heavily on bias, rather than what it really means as direct and indirect language.
      Again, thanks for the comment.

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  4. isotrop

    ” It also looks for weak emphasis — used to distinguish European English from American English. In general, if the difference between male and female weight values is not significant (a “weak” score), then the author could be European. This is because the weight matrix is biased for distinguishing genders in American English. ”
    How do you write when you can’t read?

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    • Perhaps they mean in the methods of spelling and style of sentences. For instance, in the US they often use dialog but in Europe they use dialogue. A British citizen uses the word biscuit to mean a cookie, which an American would use. And then they want to add factors of age- such as the elderly have a different style than the younger generation. It certainly lends to a conversation on language and words.

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