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Doing gender in Computer-Mediated Communication: The blogosphere


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Doing gender in Computer-Mediated Communication: The blogosphere

  1. 1. Doing Gender in Computer- Mediated Communication: The Blogosphere Susan C. Herring Lois Ann Scheidt School of Library and Information Science Indiana University USA
  2. 2. <ul><li>Hello everyone! </li></ul>Susan Herring, live via Internet
  3. 3. Definitions <ul><li>Weblog (blog) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>a web page and associated pages containing dated entries typically displayed in reverse chronological sequence </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The Blogosphere </li></ul><ul><ul><li>the collective term encompassing all weblogs (cf. blog biosphere) </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Gender and CMC <ul><li>Previous research has found gender differences in text-based computer-mediated communication (CMC) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Asynchronous: email, discussion lists, SMS </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Synchronous: chat, instant messaging </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Differences tend to disfavor women </li></ul><ul><li>(e.g. Herring 2003) </li></ul>
  5. 5. Participation <ul><li>In public discussion groups </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Males post more messages </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Males post longer messages </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Male messages receive more responses </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Males are more likely to persist in posting even when they receive no response </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Females post more when a) group has a female moderator, and b) more than 60% of group is female </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(Herring 1993, 1996a, b; Hert 1997) </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Discourse Styles <ul><li>In public discussion groups </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Males : more impersonal, fact-oriented, strong assertions, profanity, insults, sarcasm, rhetorical questions, challenges and disagreement with others </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Females : more emotional, relation-oriented, mitigated assertions, non-declarative speech acts (questions, offers, suggestions), polite expressions (e.g., thanks, apologies), support and agreement with others </li></ul></ul><ul><li>(Herring 1993, 1994, 1996a, b; Hall 1996; Savicki 1996; Sutton 1994) </li></ul>
  7. 7. Research Questions <ul><li>Are there gender differences in blogs? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If so: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>What is their nature? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Do they favor one gender over the other? </li></ul></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Participation in the Blogosphere: Popular Perceptions <ul><li>Most bloggers are adult males </li></ul><ul><li>Most blogs filter and comment on (news) content on the Web </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Mass media (e.g., Glaser 2002; Lasica 2001) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bloggers (e.g., D. Winer, R. Blood) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Scholarly studies (e.g., Krishnamurty 2002; Park 2003) </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Participation in the Blogosphere: Empirical Evidence <ul><li>Gender and age demographics </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Estimated for Blog-City, BlogSpot, DiaryLand, LiveJournal, Pitas, Weblogger, Typepad, Xanga (Perseus, Henning 2003) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>56% female, 44% male </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>53% under 20; 40% aged 20-29; 7% over 30 </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Random samples from (Herring, Scheidt, Bonus, & Wright 2004) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>48% female, 52% male </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>49% teen and emerging adult (20-25), 51% over 26 </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Roughly half female , half (or more) young people </li></ul>
  10. 10. Participation in the Blogosphere: Empirical Evidence <ul><li>Blog genre </li></ul><ul><ul><li>12.9% of random blogs are filters </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>70% are personal journals ( diaries ) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(Herring, Scheidt, Bonus, & Wright 2004) </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Gender and Age of Bloggers
  12. 12. Blog Genre and Gender/Age of Bloggers
  13. 13. Discourse Style in Blogs <ul><li>Previous research </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A study of 70 adolescent blogs (Huffaker & Calvert 2005) found gender similarities: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Girls and boys made equal use of passive, cooperative, and accommodating language </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Both girls’ and boys’ blogs were mostly personal diaries </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A study of 20 “A-list” blogs (Kennedy et al. 2005) found gender differences: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Women's comments were more inclusive and expressive </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Men's comments were more assertive, competitive, instrumental </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Women’s blogs were mostly diaries; men’s mostly political filters </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Depends on blogger age : Adolescent vs. adult? </li></ul>
  14. 14. Discourse Style in Blogs <ul><li>Two new studies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Gender and blog genre (Herring & Paolillo, under review) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Gender in adolescent diary blogs (Scheidt, in press) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Show opposite age effect </li></ul><ul><li>Suggest gender effect depends on blog genre and type of stylistic feature </li></ul>
  15. 15. Study 1: Gender and Blog Genre <ul><li>Research question </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Are gender differences in language style evident when blog genre (diary or filter) is taken into account? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Methods </li></ul><ul><ul><li>127 blog entries, balanced for gender and genre, from 44 random blogs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Counted frequencies of stylistic features from Argamon, Koppel et al. (2003; cf. the Gender Genie ) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Personal pronouns (hypothesized female) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Noun determiners, quantifiers, its (hypothesized male) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Multivariate analysis using logistic regression </li></ul></ul>
  16. 18. Blog Genres <ul><li>Diary (personal journal) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Focus on events in, and reflections about, blogger’s personal life </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Filter </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Focus on events and constructs external to the blogger, e.g., politics and religion </li></ul></ul>
  17. 19. Example of a diary blog entry <ul><li>Just a quick note to say that (1) I'm completely rested and recharged, (2) I'm excited about generating high volumes of bloggage and (3) I've seemed to develop a pathological proclivity for prevarication (translation: I'm a big fat liar). </li></ul><ul><li>In truth, I've now had three hours of sleep since yesterday at 6:00 a.m., and I'm warily circling this blog like Abbye approaches an operating vacuum cleaner blocking the way to her crate. </li></ul><ul><li>(…) </li></ul>
  18. 20. Example of a filter blog entry <ul><li>I have never believed in the Bush concept of pre-emptive war. I think that it goes against everything that American Foreign Policy has ever stood for. Bye-bye Washington's farewell speech, bye-bye Wilson's 14 points, and way to completely negate everything that the Declaration of Independence says about foreign policy. The 2002 Strategy marked a whole new direction in American foreign policy that is frankly a little scary. </li></ul><ul><li>(…) </li></ul>
  19. 21. Findings <ul><li>No gender differences </li></ul><ul><li>Genre differences </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Diary entries use “female” stylistic features </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Filter entries use “male” stylistic features </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Conclusion </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Argomon et al.’s (2003) stylistic features reflect genre conventions more than gender of writers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>BUT: blog genres are “gendered” (cf. Herring et al. 2004; Kennedy et al. 2005) </li></ul></ul>
  20. 22. Study 2: Gender in Adolescent Diary Blogs <ul><li>Research question </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Herring & Paolillo’s sample was mostly adults. Adolescents produce mostly diary blogs. Are there gender differences within adolescent diary blogs? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Methods </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Content Analysis and ethnography </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Opportunity sample: EatonWeb Portal, ‘teen’ category </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>12 blogs (6 male & 6 female) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Avg. blogger age = 16.9 years (range = 13-19) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>All entries on the first page of each blog were coded for orientation towards audience using Langellier’s (1998) taxonomy </li></ul></ul>
  21. 23. Langellier’s taxonomy of Audiences for Personal Narrative Performance (1998) <ul><li>As a witness testifying to the experience </li></ul><ul><li>As a therapist unconditionally supporting emotions </li></ul><ul><li>As a cultural theorist assessing the contestation of meanings, values, and identities </li></ul><ul><li>As a narrative analyst examining genre, truth, or strategy </li></ul><ul><li>A critic appraising the display of performance knowledge and skill </li></ul>
  22. 24. Entries by blogger gender Entries = 102 of which 89 could be fully coded
  23. 25. Orientation towards audience by blogger gender
  24. 26. Findings - Females <ul><li>Females show a tendency toward </li></ul><ul><ul><li>bifurcated orientation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>internal in revealing emotions </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>external in cultural assessment </li></ul></ul></ul>
  25. 27. Example: Orienting to emotions <ul><li>The inevitable has taken place. I have once again stepped within the walls of an institution frequented by asylum-deprived eccentrics and egocentrics. But I love it. </li></ul><ul><li>No longer a freshie... This cannot be happening. No more excuses to be ignorant. No more innocent eyes. No more fun classes ...*sniff* </li></ul>Available: http: //anonymuse . blogspot .com/
  26. 28. Example: Contesting cultural meanings, values, and identities <ul><li>things that piss me off: no. 1...anti-bush protestors </li></ul><ul><li>i live in the uk, and upon george bush's recent state visit here, hundreds o' thousands of people went out into the streets protesting at his visit, calling him &quot;the most evil man on the planet&quot; and so on... </li></ul><ul><li>where the hell were these protesters during all the years of oppression that the iraqi people faced? probably eating mcdonalds and driving ford cars to work </li></ul>Available: http://coquet. blogspot .com/
  27. 29. Findings - Males <ul><li>Males show a tendency toward </li></ul><ul><ul><li>a factual approach in reporting experience </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>asking audience to witness the event and notice their skill in performance </li></ul></ul>
  28. 30. Example: Orienting to experience <ul><li>So, I went to Dorney Park yesterday. Happy, happy, joy, joy. It wasn't all that bad, actually. I woke up an hour late because I set my alarm for seven p.m. instead of seven a.m., but nevertheless my Dad woke me up at eight. So I hopped in the shower and ran around in order to pick up Vickie and get to the art studio. I put on my new Good Charlotte shirt, so when I got to the studio there was NO WAY I was going to paint. … </li></ul><ul><li>Anyway, after I was finished at the studio my family and I were off to Dorney Park. </li></ul>Available:
  29. 31. Example: Displaying performance knowledge and skill Available: http://www. arador .org/
  30. 32. Research questions revisited <ul><li>Gender differences are found in blogs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Adults </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Women write more diary blogs, which contain more personal/interpersonal language </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Men write filter blogs, which contain more objectified (specified) language </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Adolescents </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Girls are more self-revealing and socially-conscious in their blog entries </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Boys are more factual and seek to display skill/knowledge </li></ul></ul></ul>
  31. 33. Findings help explain disparities in previous studies <ul><li>Previous studies didn’t control for blog genre </li></ul><ul><ul><li>But Huffaker & Calvert’s sample of adolescent blogs was probably diaries </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>and differences are less likely to emerge within same genre </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Previous studies selected disparate features for comparison </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Kennedy et al. analyzed discourse-pragmatic features, while Huffaker & Calvert counted word frequencies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>But gender differences in English occur more at the discourse-pragmatic than the word choice level </li></ul></ul><ul><li>THUS: Huffaker & Calvert studied word frequencies in diaries and found weak gender differences, while Kennedy et al. studied discourse-pragmatic features in diaries and filters and found strong gender differences </li></ul>
  32. 34. Explanation for disparities in previous studies (cont.) <ul><li>Our new findings support this explanation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Herring & Paolillo studied word frequencies, controlling for genre, and found no gender differences </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Scheidt studied discourse-pragmatic features and found gender differences , even within the same genre </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Taken together, these four studies suggest: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>discourse-pragmatic gender differences exist in both adult and adolescent blogs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>stylistic (word choice) gender differences are less evident in both adult and adolescent blogs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>males and females choose different blog genres (and sub-genres) </li></ul></ul>
  33. 35. Research questions revisited (cont.) <ul><li>Differences favor adult males </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Filter blogs, written by men, are assigned greater importance than other blogs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Featured more often in news stories </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Favored data for blog studies (especially by male scholars) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Linked to by other bloggers (“A-list”) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>But only 12.9% of blogs: a minority elite </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(Herring, Kouper, Scheidt, & Wright, 2004) </li></ul></ul>
  34. 36. Gender and age of bloggers in news stories <ul><li>In 16 articles about blogs from mainstream U.S. news sources between November 2002 and July 2003: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>more males (88%) are mentioned than females (12%) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>males are mentioned multiple times in the same article more often than females </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>males are mentioned earlier in the articles than females </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>males are more likely to be mentioned by name than females </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>all 94 males mentioned are adults, except for one adolescent male blogger </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(Herring, Kouper, Scheidt, & Wright, 2004) </li></ul></ul>
  35. 37. Conclusions <ul><li>Gender socialization carries over into weblog communication </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Diaries are traditionally associated with girls and women </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Factual reporting (e.g., scientific and news discourse) is traditionally associated with men </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Society has traditionally valued men’s writing over women’s writing (Spender 1989) </li></ul></ul>
  36. 38. Conclusions (cont.) <ul><li>Also, gender differences in CMC depend on genre and features analyzed </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Word frequencies (style) depend more on genre than gender </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Gender explains differences in politeness, assertiveness, etc. (discourse-pragmatics) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Strongest differences may be in what males and females choose to talk about and do online (genre) </li></ul></ul>
  37. 39. The following members of the Indiana University (We)blog Research on Genre (BROG) Project contributed to this research <ul><li>Sabrina Bonus </li></ul><ul><li>Susan C. Herring </li></ul><ul><li>Inna Kouper </li></ul><ul><li>John C. Paolillo </li></ul><ul><li>Lois Ann Scheidt </li></ul><ul><li>Elijah Wright </li></ul>
  38. 40. Questions?
  39. 41. This presentation is available at: Contact us: [email_address] [email_address]