Introducing the Gender Guesser

Filed under: Fun — joy at 9:33 pm on Saturday, March 8, 2008

Word Pirates, let me introduce you to Gender Guesser. It claims it can tell whether a man or a woman is writing a paragraph. See, maybe you didn’t know, but women and men write differently. Men use ACTION verbs and women write about their feelings. Thus, using a handy algorithm, it can predict what sex a person is based purely on their syntax.

I decided to give it a try. Gender Guesser says it needs 300 word to properly analyze someone’s sex. So I put in the following:

He looked around the room. There was a gun lying on the dresser. The bullet had been fired not too long ago, he thought. He could almost smell the gun powder. His penis twitched in his shorts. “Got to do something about that,” he thought.” But later, after I find that dame and find out what she knows.” Quickly he went to the closet door and flung it open. Nothing but a suit hanging on the hanger. “Dead end,” he thought.

“Now where can that dame be?” he thought. He went to the liquor cabinet and opened it. No beer. There were, however, small square bottles of absinthe. He eyed them suspiciously. “No,” he thought. “They probably cost $20-per-bottle, easily. And even though the patsy who rented this room would get charged…”

“No no no! Never mind my alcoholism! I have to find the dame. What was I doing? Oh yeah, looking for clues. Fine. Here are the clues: there is a gun. It fired. There is possibly a dead body somewhere.”

He turned and threw open the front door to the room. Outside, there was a hallway. He looked down it, waiting sternly for a new clue to materialize. He couldn’t see or hear anything of interest. He stalked out into the hallway, striding in his black coat. In his pocket, his own gun nestled comfortingly against his leg. He patted it. “Ol’ Nelly,” he thought.

As he rounded the corner, he stopped and looked around. He put his hand in his pocket and put his finger on the trigger, just in case something jumped out at him. For a moment, he held his breath. He thought he heard a woman whimpering pathetically somewhere. It was faint, but yes, but he could hear it.

“The dame!” he thought…

The result? Gender Guesser believes I am 82.14% male.

Just goes to show, these things are based on science and reason, not stereotypes and folderol. Boy, you really can’t fool the Internets…
~ Joy

7 Comments »

Comment by Dr. Neal Krawetz

March 9, 2008 @ 7:19 am

Hi Joy,

Your writing sample included quoted text. In dialogue text, the author tries to write like the subject. Since the subject is male, the quotes sway the results to appear as male.

If we remove the quoted sections, but keep everything else, then we get:
Genre: Informal
Female = 400
Male = 317
Difference = -83; 44.21%
Verdict: Weak FEMALE
Weak emphasis could indicate European.

In contrast, this blog entry of yours (everything above and below the blue quoted text) says you are female:
Genre: Informal
Female = 149
Male = 99
Difference = -50; 39.91%
Verdict: FEMALE

Enjoy Joy,

-Neal

Comment by marcia

March 10, 2008 @ 1:10 am

I put in my speed dating story and got “Weak Male” 55%. Perhaps that was why I didn’t get any dates.

Comment by Joy

March 10, 2008 @ 3:09 pm

Neal,

But those aren’t the full results. When I remove the quotations from the sample, I get:

Genre: Formal
Female = 50
Male = 277
Difference = 227; 84.7%
Verdict: MALE

As well as:

Genre: Informal
Female = 318
Male = 317
Difference = -1; 49.92%
Verdict: Weak FEMALE

Secondly, by removing the quotations, the text is under 300 words. My blog post is also under 300 words. Your program claims that it can only analyze 300 words or more to get accurate results. So how can I trust the results in your comment?

Finally, I tried another experiment. I made the detective a lesbian and changed all the pronouns from “he” to “she” and “him” to “her.” I left in the dialogue. The result that time?

Genre: Formal
Female = 301
Male = 454
Difference = 153; 60.13%
Verdict: MALE

Genre: Informal
Female = 400
Male = 492
Difference = 92; 55.15%
Verdict: Weak MALE

So sorry, I still hold to my original opinion. However, I’m glad to know you think I write realistic male dialogue. Thanks for stopping by.

Joy

Comment by Robin

March 10, 2008 @ 11:04 pm

Try as I might, I was still pinned as a male, but only on the formal. It turns out that I don’t know nearly as much about fishnets and fashion as I would like…

Okay, actually I don’t give a flying crap about either. That may have been the problem. Also, I wasn’t sure what informal euphemism women use for the male phallus, but I was certain it would not be “dong,” so I avoided that term. However, I did end up as an informally weak female, indicating that I may be European. I’m confused.

Comment by Matt

April 11, 2009 @ 5:43 pm

Anyone can fool a machine if they’re trying. However you probably wouldn’t have wrote that exact passage had not you known about the program. Also, the formal and informal categories make the guesser partially up to interpretation. It is up to you to decide whether or not the writing circumstance is formal or informal. Also, read the information bellow before you go on a sarcastic female hissy-fit because a computer thinks you’re a man. “Similarly, professional female writers (and experienced hobbyists) frequently use male writing styles. Gender Guesser does not take any of these factors into account. “

Comment by Joy

April 12, 2009 @ 8:44 am

It has been over a year since I wrote this post, but if I remember correctly, I wrote the first section specifically for the machine, and then on other “tests” I copied and pasted from other things I wrote–particularly from my blog at ohjoy.org, which is informal. The result was always male. Marcia had the same experience. So I dunno, seems to me that this is based on a lot of silly stereotypes, but that could just be my illogical female brain puttering away again…

Comment by Joy

April 12, 2009 @ 8:45 am

Oh and as for that bit on professional writers–I would be very interested to find out when Gender Guesser added that little disclaimer.

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