On Instagram, Seeing Between the (Gender) Lines

Excerpt from this article:

Her research found that social media is a gathering place for discussing the logistics of gender — providing advice, reassurance and emotional support, as well as soliciting feedback about everything from voice modulation to hairstyles. The internet is a place where nonbinary people can learn about mixing masculine and feminine elements to the point of obscuring concrete identification as either. As one person she interviewed put it, “Every day someone can’t tell what I am is a good day.”

Nearly everyone Darwin interviewed remarked about the power of acquiring language that spoke to their identity, and they tended to find that language on the internet. But Harry Barbee, a nonbinary sociologist at Florida State University who studies sex, gender and sexuality, cautioned against treating social media as a curative. “When the world assumes you don’t exist, you’re forced to define yourself into existence if you want some semblance of recognition and social viability, and so the internet and social media helps achieve this,” Barbee said. “But it’s not a dream world where we are free to be you and me, because it can also be a mechanism for social control.” Barbee has been researching what it means to live as nonbinary in a binary world. Social media, Barbee said, is “one realm where they do feel free to share who they are, but they’re realistic about the limitations of the space. Even online, they are confronted by hostility…

 

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How you take selfies has everything to do with who you think will see them

Excerpt from this article:

Anastasia Makhanova, a psychologist at Florida State University, compared the profile images of users on dating sites with those on professional networking sites and noticed something strange. Women on dating sites took photos mostly from above, while men on professional networking sites took them from below. Makhanova thought it might have something to do with how humans attempt present themselves to their advantage—depending on who they think is looking at them.

Indian women face ‘digital purdah’

Excerpt from this article on Warc (thanks for sharing Rina!):

India has one of the world’s wider gender gaps as regards phone ownership as 43% of men have one compared to just 28% of women; the proportions are broadly equal in other major regional markets such as China (49% v 48%) and Indonesia (43% v 38%).

…There is a reluctance among parts of a socially conservative male population to see wives and daughters carrying phones, which they regard with suspicion when in female hands.

“Mobile phones are really dangerous for women,” according to an elder in one Uttar Pradesh village which has confiscated mobile phones from every woman under the age of 18. “Girls are more susceptible to bringing shame upon themselves,” he added.

 

Why Do So Few Women Edit Wikipedia?

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Excerpt from this article:

In 2008, a survey found that less than 13% of Wikipedia contributors worldwide were women. The free online encyclopedia that “anyone can edit” was outed as being mostly run by men. A follow up survey in 2011 found similar results: globally, 9% of contributors were women; in the U.S., it was 15%. Meanwhile, there appeared to be no significant gender difference in readership rates.

…Two professors, Julia Bear of Stony Brook University’s College of Business and Benjamin Collier of Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, decided to explore the issue from the perspective of women who had been behind the scenes… They found clear differences. Women reported feeling less confident about their expertise, less comfortable with editing others’ work (a process which often involves conflict), and reacting more negatively to critical feedback than men. …

And yet while Bear and Collier’s analysis showed that women reported less confidence in their expertise, greater discomfort with editing, and greater negative response to criticism, their analysis also found that it was the first two (less confidence and greater discomfort) and not the last (negative response to criticism) that was affecting their contributing behavior…

“Wikipedia is a representation of knowledge. If you go there, and you don’t see any female representation or role models, it shows an implicit bias in the way things are ordered and prioritized,” Reagle said. “That can have a significant effect on people.”

Enlisting more women to contribute is the only way to keep women’s interests and needs from becoming afterthoughts.

 

I’m a 12-year-old girl. Why don’t the characters in my apps look like me?

Excerpt from this article:

For a 12-year-old girl, playing games on an iPhone is pretty regular behavior. Almost all of my friends have game apps on their phones, and we’ll spend sleepovers playing side by side. One day I noticed that my friend was playing a game as a boy character and asked why she wasn’t a girl. She said you couldn’t be a girl; a boy character was the only option. After that, I started to pay attention to other apps my friends and I were playing. I saw that a lot of them featured boy characters, and if girl characters did exist, you were actually required to pay for them.

…I looked at the gender breakdown of the characters in the top 50 apps. I found that 18 percent had characters whose gender was not identifiable (i.e., potatoes, cats or monkeys). Of the apps that did have gender-identifiable characters, 98 percent offered boy characters. What shocked me was that only 46 percent offered girl characters. Even worse, of these 50 apps, 90 percent offered boy characters for free, while only 15 percent offered girl characters for free. Considering that the players of Temple Run, which has been downloaded more than one billion times, are 60 percent female, this system seems ridiculous.

These biases affect young girls like me. The lack of girl characters implies that girls are not equal to boys and they don’t deserve characters that look like them. I am a girl; I prefer being a girl in these games. I do not want to pay to be a girl.

Is it a boy? Is it a girl? How Pinterest gave birth to the gender reveal party

Gender reveal party

Excerpt from this article:

Since January 2014, the number of “gender reveal” pins have increased by 224%, according to a spokeswoman at Pinterest. On the BabyCenter, a popular website for new parents, the number of posts about the gatherings has increased from 280 in 2011 to 14,000 in 2015. Now that actors, hipsters and even men like Johnny have embraced the fad, it could just become the next staple of Baby Celebration Inc.

The parties all follow a similar formula: after a sonogram, the couple hands their sealed envelope to someone trusty and waits in agony until the dramatic reveal. One of the most popular (and cheapest) ways to discover the sex is via balloon-filled cardboard box. Others slice into a cake filled with either pink or blue icing. But the options are endless, and range from confetti in a piñata to pink- or blue-colored “lava” from a plastic bottle modeled into a volcano.

Online, “reveals” are mostly still dominated by pregnant women who revel in tacky pink and blue-themed decorations. There are straws, napkins, banners and mini-water coolers filled with pink lemonade and blue punch. Hershey bar packages are colored in to highlight “she” or “he”. Most parties also include interactive ways to guess the baby’s sex: think pins for the cardboard “staches” or “lashes”, painted clothespins or marking your vote on a chalkboard under a headline like “Guns” or “Glitter”.

Video game study finds losers more likely to harass women

Men who performed poorly in the games were more likely to bully female players

Excerpt from this article:

Two researchers analysed how men treated women while playing 163 games of Halo 3.

Men who performed poorly in the games responded by being hostile to female players.

The male winners were mostly pleasant to other players, while the losing men made unsavoury comments to female players.

“Low-status males that have the most to lose due to a hierarchical reconfiguration are responding to the threat female competitors pose,” the researchers, from the University of New South Wales and the Miami University in Ohio, write. “High-status males with the least to fear were more positive.”

Male players were thrown off by hearing female voices during the game. The researchers think their results suggest that young males should be taught that losing to women is not “socially debilitating”.

The results also suggest that video games may be reinforcing gender segregation and potentially promoting sexist behaviours, especially troubling since so many “gamers” are teenagers.