Gender Wars and Social Inequality

Dave Linabury's picture
Instructor
2/13/2014
Blog, Twitter

Consider sharing it with your friends.

If you’re anything but a straight, white person, filling out Web forms that ask for personal information can give one pause. If you’re Cuban-American, you may have to decide whether or not you should fill out Black or Hispanic as the forms rarely allow for both. And what if you’re mixed race?

It becomes even more problematic for individuals who are not straight or do not identify as male or female. 

The same holds true for people who do not identify as “single, married, divorced” or the awkward “It’s complicated”. What if you’re a gay married couple and want to identify as such (gay-married) to prevent others from assuming you are married to the opposite gender (or for political or rights reasons)? Basically, entire groups of people are being dumped into “Other” for most of their identity. We can do better.
Are there other ways of allowing folks who may live on the fringe of society to self identify properly if they wish to? Yes. For starters, let’s do away with drop menus for these type of options. Let’s try things like combo boxes which are like drop menus, except they allow you to type in your own choices if you find that the majority options just don’t do it for you.
Combo Box
On a related note, I ran across a tool today called Twee-Q that analyzes your Twitter profile to see if you are evenly retweeting males and females. The issue is, most people tend to retweet males more (especially males). I was happy to see I scored an 8.8 out of 10 which meant I was tweeting 53% males to 47% females. Not perfect, but not bad.
Twee-Q
When you are writing your posts, retweeting others or filling out forms, does gender inequality enter your head? How about race or sexual orientation? Should it? Let me know your thoughts below. 

Comments & Feedback

Student

After reading this blog post, I became more aware of the issue of gender inequality over social media. I never really thought about how discriminatory the internet could be. We live in a "cookie cutter" society, where it's expected to be female or male, or straight. I believe that the option to type in your own preference in a drop menu would help those who suffer from discrimination. I believe that everyone deserves the right to be treated with respect and equality, and this option would help us accomplish these goals. I don't really think about gender equality in my tweets. I will believe I am unbiased in my social media usage. Although, I do believe that we should make others aware of what is occuring on social media.

Student

Allowing more identification options has benefits beyond the interests of the collectee (that is, the person who is having information about them collected). Increased precision of information is benefical to the data collector as well. Having more detail would undoubtedly help those who want to reach a certain audience become more accurate in doing so. There is a lot of value to various organizations that offer access to targeted markets. For the same reason that the groups originally discussed feel a need to differentiate themselves, the marketing and appeals used to gain their attention would also likely be best applied if it were tailored to these interests. Dave has done a great job of identifying an issue and solution that is win-win for everyone. 

Student

The thought about gender inequality never really enters my head when I am online and being asked questions about myself. I am a white, straight, female living in the US and sadly I am part of one of the more society accepted groups. It never really crossed my mind about how others must feel when their category doesnt show up as a choice until after reading this blog. Its actually very sad. I dont think it should matter if one is bi, straight or gay because we are all people and we are all the same.

Student

When I write posts on social media, I don't necessarily think about gender inequality, sexual orientation, or race. The main thing I think about is how can I write this so I don't offend anyone. If I know I might offend someone, I won't post it. I would rather not be that annoying friend on Facebook or Twitter that posts controversial things that angers some followers. Personally, I find these people to annoying and wanting attention. Unless I have an interesting article that will change peoples thoughts of something, I will not post controversial issues on social media.

Student

When I do anything on social media I have to say I really don't think about gender inequality at all. I barely use my facebook anymore because I just think twitter is more interesting, but even then I usally just follow someone because I think that they're interesting or funny. Race or sexual orientation really doesn't come to my mind either. I actually thought I retweeted more females than males on twitter but when I used that TEE-Q tool I was shocked that I retweet 60% of men and only 40% of women, giving me a 6.6. I think the only time I really think about gender and sexual orientation questions when they're being presented to me on a form I fill out either at the doctors or whenever I'm applying for something. I don't enjoy the fact that people have to choose the option "other" if there ethnicity isn't listed in the options. I think it would be pretty cool to see in the section of "married, single, etc" if they defined the types of marriages such as "gay-marriage" just to have the option if people wanted to check it. Overall, in my opinion, even though these things don't bother me at all they might bother other peole who do think about these things or who get offended when they have to choose the "other" option. There should be a spot where people can enter what they want to instead of leaving something blank because they couldn't find anything to relate with.

Student

This blog really did make me think about how we hardly think about gender, single status, etc. while filling out forms, or describing ourselves online for a profile. This never crossed my mind while I was doing all those things. Our world is so vast with so many different people that its impossible to categorize them all into some spreadsheet. Now that I think about the "Other" box to check, it makes it seem like we only care about the greater majority found among us. And that’s not right!  
This resource shows the trends in social media on gender. The article based on the youtube watchers stated that men spend more time watching videos than women.
http://socialmediatoday.com/andykinsey/1707816/social-media-men-vs-women

This resource gives a status on which gender is using a certain social media more such as Twitter, Google =, Linkedin, etc.
http://www.mediabistro.com/alltwitter/social-media-men-women_b40738

Heres another fun fact about women on social media towards men. I think this one is funny because of the amount of friends girls always have in general.
 

Student

When I am writing posts I honestly don't think about gender inequality, but when I am retweeting I find that I am retweeting mostly my female friends, or other female celebrities, but that may be because I am a female. When I fill out forms I d notice gender inequality, why does it matter if I am a male or female? Or if I am white or caucasian? The person helping me shouldn't care what gender or race I am. 

I believe the idea of gender and race inequality should be thought of when it comes to twitter or forms, because types are changing. There is no specific type of person anymore, and there is no way to clearly define, or put boundaries around those lines. 

Student

While filling out forms online, I never think about gender inequality.  I can attribute this to the fact that I am single, white, and male.  All of these options are always available to me when the specific questions are asked, so I never have to contemplate about which answer I should choose.  Combo boxes seem like a great way to minimalize gender inequality online.  I have always wondered why more websites do not use this option because sometimes it even proves to make things easier for me regarding choices for certain questions.  As for online posts and retweeting, I do not focus particularly on gender, but rather on the content I am posting.  I am more concerned about if people will enjoy the content and if it is the right forum to post said content.  I personally do not think about race or sexual orientation while writing my posts.  I feel that there is no reason why it should be because we are all equal and by adding a label it is just creating inequality and a reason to acknowledge differences between us.  After using Twee-Q, I found that I had a score of 2/10.  I do not see why there is a problem with men being re-tweeted more.  In my case, I just prefer the content that my male friends post, so I am more likely to re-tweet it.

Student

I was surprised to read that most people retweet males more on average. I always assumed the majority of Twitter users were female because I mostly only follow women. Not surprisingly I got a 3 on Twee-Q (23% men, 77% women). I think I really only retweet women because, while men are just as entertaining with their tweets, I feel like the act of retweeting is like saying "I would say this" or "this applies to me". Often times I don't feel this way about the things men Tweet. 

As to greater inclusivity for identity boxes, I 100% agree that there needs to be options for everyone to identify with the gender, race, relationship status, they feel most comfortable with. My mother, who was raised in a small, old-fashioned town, and I often debate about whether or not our society is becoming overly "politically correct". She believes that by being more open to all of these new lifestyles and freedoms we put the old and "good" ways in danger of extinction. I don't think that's true. By allowing for boxes that say transgender woman, transgender man, etc., are we really taking away from that box marked as male/female? I mean maybe statistically speaking yes, but why force people into boxes they don't want to be in. And either way, I think the importance of equality trumps the importance of preserving traditional ways. 

Student

When I am filling out forms or writing online posts, any type of inequality does not normally enter my mind, simply because I do fit into the category of, "straight, White, female." It doesn't cross my mind that choosing from a drop down box could be difficult or confusing for some types of people, simply because my choice is so easy and I always have the correct options to choose from. I think that combo boxes are a great alternative and would allow people to feel more comfortable and accepted when they can more accurately portray who they are, instead of having to choose from the most "popular" demographic segments.

When I am retweeting or reading tweets on Twitter, I usually focus on the content and don't really ever think about race, gender or sexuality. It doesn't enter my mind because it doesn't consciously matter to me if this person is white, black, female, male, gay, etc., what matters is that I enjoy the content. However, it is interesting that people retweet males over females, because from my point of view, content is key, not gender.

If I was of a minority race or sexual orientation, I assume that my opinion would be different. Choosing from drop-down boxes may not be so black and white for some people, and it shouldn't have to be. Making people fit into specific types or groups is some form of discrimination, because some people may fit into more than one area.

I think that types of inequalities should enter peoples minds when they are online, because it can be easy to offend or say the wrong thing. People should be extra careful when posting about sensistive topics, and although inequalities may not be the first thing someone thinks about when they are on Twitter or Facebook, it should be thought about at some point in order to not create discrepancies or hurt feelings. This is an interesting topic and I know that when I am filling out demographic boxes on my next profile or application, it will surely cross my mind that someone, somewhere is struggling with which "group" they fit into.

Student

I've never really had to think about these issues when filling out forms before because I am a straight, caucasian female. However, after reading this blog post I tried to imagine what it would be like if I were a gay male/female from a different country and I have to say a lot of things would be more difficult. I came from a small town in northern Michigan and despite it's size, it was very diverse. I was exposed to a lot of people who were of different race than my own, so interacting on social media with people who are not exactly like me was something I was used to. With that being said, today when I go on twitter and see somehting that I think is funny or applies to me I retweet it, I don't pay attention to race or sexuality. I woud say I probably retweet more females, but I think that is due to the fact that I am female and follow more females than males. I do not think people should base their decisions on who to interact with on social media based on race, gender, or sexual identity. However, in the sense of identifiying one's self on an application or form I think there should be more options so people can more easily find a group that represents them.  

Student

After reading this post, I tried Twee-Q for my retweeting analysis. It came to 5. Leaning towards men more than women. But to be frank I had never thought on this line before. I never thought about gender inequality while retweeting or writing posts, because retweeting just happens at the spur of the moment. But issues regarding gender inequality and race do come up while filling out forms and profiles and this blog post comes at an appropriate time when Facebook came out with 58 gender options. I think the world is getting diversed drastically and people have a right to voice their orientation. As an international student, I never have proper options for categorizing my race. I am Indian, but all I get as an option in Asian. Asia is the largest continent. There are hundreds of races in that. One cannot categorize them all under one label. So having various options for gender is a first step towards ending gender wars and social inequality.

Student

I decided to tryout the TWEE-Q and found that I am the exception to the norm. I retweet more females than males. My percentage was about 56% female and 44% male. This may have to do with the fact that I am in a sorority and follow a majority of female and female related accounts. I guess because I am caucasian I don't really every think about someone discriminating against me, its not something I really see as a threat. I do know that some of my friends who are girls think they may be discriminated against based on their gender, but I don't think this threat feels as real or as deep as a racial bias.

I do find it interesting though that some people are unwilling to asnwer touchy question on job applications, but are willing to put all their information on Facebook. Employers can easily access any information they want, even what you did last weekend, from your social media sites. This is just another example of over sharing over social media and the hyperpersonalization on the web.  

Student

For me personally, on twitter, I tend to be in more agreeance with male posts than female posts. I belived if I were able to tally up my 'favorites' I would favorite much more female posts than male posts, just because I find more females posts to be entertaining, however when I retweet something it's because I want my followers to be able to see it as an extension of myself.

Student

This is a very interesting topic to think about.  Honestly as I was thinking about the "retweeting equality" theory I for sure thought I would go against the norm.  If I had to guess, I would say I retweet twice as many females as I do males.  However, when I went to Twee-Q, I found the exact opposite is true with a score of 4.6/10.  I retweet 66% of what males have to say and 34% of what females have to say.  I think in such a developed society as we live in today, this could definitely spark some important debate topics.  With this I have to say gender inequality does not enter my head, but I’m wondering if it should.  Honestly if I’m retweeting males without even noticing it, would not retweeting them and instead retweeting females mean that I’m necessarily being fair?  I think if I actually consciously started to think about gender inequality it might, in fact, form some sort of affirmative action over the whole process, which could be just as bad.  Very interesting to think about though!

 

 

Student

In my Telecommunication's class I had to create forms with html. Although the goals of the assignment (creating a survey) was not to make it according to the rules of marketing, I had difficulties. For instance setting the box size for entering the first name. I met people from Middle East who had really long names which differ syrongly from our Western names. The other question I asked is where the limits are. How far can marketing or a company go. Accordung to the German institite for statistics, by 2020 Germany will be dominantly Islamic.  Keeping up with demograpgic changes is insanely difficult nowadays.

Student

Considering the gender war, the rising debate of homosexual marriage do changed our thought and even regulations. Facebook adds new gender identity options for users, which reflects how hot the topic is. However, the question is not whether the trend of complicated gender identity is here or not, but how far the issue will extend to.

 

 

We can imagine that in the future, the children from transgender parents would face gender identity problem just like mixed race children has race problem. Will the world be liberal enough to accept all the options? I think the fact that homosexual marriage is still fighting for legal support says the world are not ready yet. 

In light of gender inequity, it is based on the knowledge, experience, and social network, that users have. For example, a man who like football would retweet more from other football fans, who are more likely to be male than female. 

Student

This is an intersting point. When I fill out forms or post online I never had gender inequality enter my head. On Facebook, I have always thought the "it's complicated" option seemed a little ridiculous and broad. Yet, I never thought of the challenges that many other people, who don't match the offered categories, face as they struggle to accurately define themselves. I think that combo boxes are a great idea for filling out online demographics. On the other hand, if you really are in a "complicated" relationship, then don't let me stop your from clearly representing your relationship status. 

Student

From a purely business standpoint, businesses will benefit the most by accurately collecting demographic information about their customers. 

As others have said, I'm not sure the best way to do that.  Having them write their answers in means there will be a lack of consistency for the business.  However, providing only a few set classifications keeps others from accurately reporting on who they are. 

Businesses need to be looking for a solution.  If they have more accurate information about their customers, they will be able to provide a better service. 

Student

I feel that this issue is a cultural problem especially in the United States.  I came from a more conservative background where lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) are less exposed.  This doesn't mean that there isn't one, it's just people is not as welcoming with the idea of same sex couple.  I think there's both good and bad things that came out of this. 

The good thing is that there are less sexualy disoriented people.  With this, people who aren't LGBT due tue hormonal issue are not encourage to explore their sexuality to something that is not right.  Please don't get me wrong, I am not a homophobic,  in fact some of the best people that I know are LGBT.  But I do believe that marriage should have been only between one man and one woman. Now, the bad thing is that there are also people who are LGBT at birth who would be hurt because people did not accept them as who they are.

Well this view actually leads to my answer to your question.  In my opinion, people are overly sensitive to both racial and sexual issues.  I don't see the purpose of identifying your race in some forms.  I guess it make sense to identify your race or sex in a survey that is used for a research, but you shouldn't need to identify your race when you are applying for school or scholarship.  And for the mixed people or LGBT, they can choose one that represent them the most.

Student

When writing posts or filling out forms gender inequality never really enters my head. I never think of how often I'm retweeting guys or girls, and most of the time I just retweet something I like without even realizing if it's posted by a guy or a girl. Race and sexual orientation is a different story. When writing posts or retweeting things I never say anything that could affend someone of a different race or sexual orientation. I am very open to all views and have a hard time understanding those who are so close minded about those issues. I believe that filling out forms should be adjusted to make those who are members of another race and sexual orientation comfortable, more a part of something, and feel like that what they are filling out is true to them and making an impact. Race and sexual orientation will be an ongoing issue for the rest of our lives. There will never be a time where everyone is accepting of everyone. As sad as it is it's the truth and I hope that one day something will be done to change that. 

Student

I have mixed feelings about this topic. I feel as though it is important to be talked about, because it is part of our society, and people REALLY need to get used to it so it does not bother them as much as it does. From my perspective, this type of relationship, any "other" type of relationship should be legal. If it that persons choice to make these decisions, so why not let them make what decision they want? These kind of websites seem a little strange to me, as some person is checking to see what sex is retweeting the other sex, or the same sex.

I make sure to filter my posts, in order to not offend anyone. That would create a sorts of unneccesary drama! The topic of "gender inequality" is something that is referred to often. I would not say it is the first thing that comes to mine when I am posting, but it is something to think about. When it comes to filling out forms, I think that is no set way that will make everyone equally happy about the layout, and the choices. I say, why not just leave the boxes open to type exactly what you are? If you're mixed race, let them know you're mixed race. There are many internal and external ways to make these issues seem less of an issue' it's the person who will take the time to acknowledge that and get it figured out.

Student

Gender and sex will always have controversary surrounding them. I think it is time to make these questions fill in the blank and allow people to write who they are and what they associate themselves as. With the drop down menus, half of the data is most likely skewed in someway because for those people who are gay and married or Cuban-American like you said, they are just choosing an answer and not really telling who they are. I tried to us the Twee-Q website but for some reason it would not read my tweets, but I do think I am accurate with the information about retweeting males over females. Looking through my tweets a majority of them are from males and i really don't know why this is the case. I never would have connected whether im retweeted males over females to gender equality in conversations, but it is eye opening.

Student

I definitely agree that this is an issue that needs to be addressed. I am not sure the best way to go format it but additional options for gender, relationship status and race need to be added.

Being a straight, single, Caucasian, female, this isn’t something that always comes to my mind immediately. I have always easily filled out my forms and information and I hope to live in a world where everyone can experience this without struggling.  

Equality has been a big fight for far too many people; so making changes in Facebook interfaces and forms seems to provide a small step in the right direction. Its very easy for people to unknowingly be insensitive to issues like this because it is something that some never have to think about or question. By adding options it may bring attention to this and make others realize that not everyone fits into these limited boxes. 

 

Student

I think the "Other" category is wrong because I believe everyone has the right to show who they are without being called an other. I think it is just lazy not to add more categories for people that are gay-married or people who are of a mixed race. There will be less controversy if they decide to add more categories. I agree with getting rid of the drop menus and adding boxes with different categories that people can choose from and they would be able to choose more than one. 

Student

Along these lines Facebook just added a new gender identity option for its users. 

I think there should definitely be a better way to identify people because everyone is so proud of their unique identity. We shouldn't force people into cookie cutters. Furthermore, it would benefit companies to have a better idea of their customers anyways. If they expanded their identification options on surveys and information forms they would have a greater understanding of the people that consume their products or care about their brand.

Companies have everything to gain from letting people accurately represent their identity. 

Instructor

Wow, timely! I didn't check Mashable today. Glsd you posted that, Molly!

Dave Linabury's picture
Instructor
2/13/2014
Blog, Twitter