Some linguists have developed algorithms that purport to predict a writer's gender by analyzing writing samples. It's called the Gender Genie and you can find it here. The algorithm ignores content and focuses on key words consisting primarily of conjunctions, prepositions, pronouns, etc. Intrigued, I tried it out with various samples from my blogs. I began by entering a couple of book reviews - and discovered that I'm a male!
Figuring that book reviews follow particular conventions that may reflect a more "masculine" approach to writing, I tried out the genie with several routine blog entries, family news, etc., that I've made over the past several months, from August through December. Two of them were written by a female and the other four were written by a male! YIKES!!!! Don't tell Dave about this - he thinks he's been married to a woman for almost 28 years!
So, what's the deal here? Am I about to undergo an identity crisis? Or is there a flaw in the algorithm?
Well, having read some of the theoretical background (there's some information available in the New York Times and Nature), it turns out that the algorithm is based on some tired old cliches about female and male communications styles. I know you've heard or read this before, so say it along with me: females are more comfortable talking about people and relationships, males are more comfortable talking about things. Methinks perhaps the algorithm is flawed. Regardless, the genie is still kind of fun, so you may enjoy trying it out. Maybe you'll discover your inner male or female!
(PS: I entered this post into the genie - it was written by a male.)