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Old 08-11-2019, 06:27 AM
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Has the SDMB gender ratio changed significantly over time?


I've heard that women are leaving this board. While it's true that individual women may leave the board, individual men leave too which opens up the possibility of confirmation bias. If it's accurate though, perhaps a thread dedicated to that would be warranted instead of many individual complaints about individual threads/posters.

Are there stats that could allow us to see if female members have been leaving this board at a higher rate than male members? How about the rating of joining? Is there a graph of gender ratios over time?
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Old 08-11-2019, 07:08 AM
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It isn't as important who is a member as who regularly posts (always a far smaller number, on any board I've ever participated in).

Also note that if women were always a minority (pretty sure that's the case), even if we left at the same rate as men, the ratio would continue to widen as we were fewer to begin with.

My sense that men not only dominate in population but also skew the discussions toward specifically male interests, tones, ways of thinking about sex and gender, has been steadily growing over the few years I've been here, but that's subjective.

I have participated in other boards that skew male, but perhaps they are interest-specific (for example, fountain pens, home orchards) the oppressive sense of being an endlessly misunderstood and/or disregarded minority does not seem to come into play the way it so often does here.

Last edited by Ulfreida; 08-11-2019 at 07:10 AM.
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Old 08-11-2019, 07:12 AM
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I don't know how one would collect such stats, given that gender of users isn't always obvious, there's no official reporting of it, and some users even deliberately keep their gender secret. The best you could do would be to take some random sampling of posters, and then for each poster, search through their posts for ones where they talk about their gender, which for a sample large enough to be useful would take an ungodly long time.
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Old 08-11-2019, 07:46 AM
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I mentioned an earlier ATMB thread which looked at a number of polls done here:
Quote:
Originally Posted by DSeid
Lower share of female regulars. What to do?
Let's start with establishing the premise.

Two separate polls about eight years both showed at that time a gender distribution of about 35 to 41% female (one with various options) and male of about 57%.

Two recent polls show numbers 28ish% female, and about 70 to 72% male now.

Understood that polls may not reflect reality but whatever bias they have is likely consistent and together these polls demonstrate pretty conclusively that our female membership is trending significantly downwards over time. That in fact surprised me but it is clearly the case.

I agree with others that such is a problem.
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Old 08-11-2019, 07:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelEmouse View Post
Are there stats that could allow us to see if female members have been leaving this board at a higher rate than male members? How about the rating of joining? Is there a graph of gender ratios over time?
As Chronos has said, there are no such data, especially any that might be considered reliable. I suppose there might have been polls from time to time that asked people's gender, but even that wouldn't be reliable. No one is required to indicate their gender, and many people never mention it or even obscure it.

In my experience over more than 18 years here, whenever someone disagrees with a moderation issue or some perceived board policy, they will make the claim that "people are leaving" or that "the board is dying" because of it. There is really no way to substantiate such claims.
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Old 08-11-2019, 08:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ulfreida View Post
Also note that if women were always a minority (pretty sure that's the case), even if we left at the same rate as men, the ratio would continue to widen as we were fewer to begin with.
That would only be true if the gender ratio of people leaving was 1:1 but all things being equal, they would be expected to leave at a similar ratio to the current membership. If 30% of people left because they fell in with reddit then I would think 30% of men and 30% of women would leave, not x number of men and an equal x number of women.

Last edited by CarnalK; 08-11-2019 at 08:35 AM.
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Old 08-11-2019, 10:51 AM
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The reasons why people are leaving are probably many, so that makes it even easier to fall prey to post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacies. It appears to me that there are fairly few right-leaning posters relative to the population in general. No idea if there are fewer now than 20 years ago. No idea that if there are fewer now, that this is due to moderation, rules change, or some undiscovered correlation between being right-leaning, message-board-posting, and higher mortality.

What makes this board different from others is that it is a place where wide-ranging topics can be discussed, at times even with some intelligence. We need to keep that, while being careful to not alienate chunks of the membership. Avoiding misogyny, or hate speech, without falling into censorship is a fine line to walk, one that I think our moderators walk exceedingly well. Given that it is a balancing act, it is almost unavoidable that rhere are cases where either some feel speech is excessively restricted, or that they are exposed to hateful expression- and sometimes both. I don’t think you can have an environment where no-one feels restricted, or no-one exposed. At best you find the lines where most are ok with what we have. That means some will not be. I hope they still find enough of value to hang around. There is much of value here.
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Old 08-11-2019, 11:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CarnalK View Post
I mentioned an earlier ATMB thread which looked at a number of polls done here:
Since, as Chronos said "given that gender of users isn't always obvious, there's no official reporting of it, and some users even deliberately keep their gender secret" the difference in those numbers really isnt significant.
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Old 08-11-2019, 11:33 AM
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I agree with DSeid's quote. It shows a trend.
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Old 08-13-2019, 11:08 AM
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I know that the Dope used to be my go-to, keeping up on news and opinions around the world, I loved the (usually) intelligent conversation and debates, and appreciated the general feel of the board. That has changed, a lot. Anytime a woman posts that there was misogyny or sexism, she is shut down by a rush of (mostly male) posters, eager to defend and wave the "Free speech" flag. It has gotten to the point that the SDMB is no longer the board I visit frequently, just somewhere I stop in once and a while when things are slow, and I almost always find a post that is either deeply offensive to me as a woman, or honestly triggering as a survivor of sexual assault.

It did not used to be this way, and it is sad that a place I used to consider a wealth of intelligent and thought-provoking interaction has devolved to this.
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Old 08-14-2019, 02:02 PM
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Is the board dying? Does anyone have a way to calculate words posted or posts posted boardwide by year?
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Old 08-14-2019, 02:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colibri View Post
As Chronos has said, there are no such data, especially any that might be considered reliable. I suppose there might have been polls from time to time that asked people's gender, but even that wouldn't be reliable. No one is required to indicate their gender, and many people never mention it or even obscure it.

In my experience over more than 18 years here, whenever someone disagrees with a moderation issue or some perceived board policy, they will make the claim that "people are leaving" or that "the board is dying" because of it. There is really no way to substantiate such claims.
Could you make an educated guess?
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Old 08-14-2019, 02:52 PM
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The only way we could really notice absences might be high-profile departures of prolific posters. Spice Weasel is the only female poster that I can recall by name who has left the Dope for good, and I don't think it was because of not liking what other people were saying here, or anything like that.
  #14  
Old 08-14-2019, 03:30 PM
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Originally Posted by SamuelA View Post
Does anyone have a way to calculate words posted or posts posted boardwide by year?
Sounds like an excellent project. Better get counting!
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Old 08-14-2019, 03:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SamuelA View Post
Is the board dying?
Message boards, on the whole, are kind of on the endangered-species list. There's a lot more ways to interact with, and have discussions with, people online now than there were 20+ years ago, and I would not be surprised to learn that younger people, in particular, are more likely to be using social media (Facebook, Reddit, etc.) rather than old-fashioned message boards.

I suspect that a large proportion of our active users here are both (a) longtime board members, and (b) over the age of 40. And, there've been numerous discussions here over the past couple of years about the board seeming to be generally slower now (i.e., fewer new discussion threads, fewer posters contributing to those threads).

And, there's also the factor that there aren't new Straight Dope columns any longer, and that the continued existence of this board is thanks to the work of TubaDiva and the rest of the staff.
  #16  
Old 08-14-2019, 06:38 PM
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I had the impression that in the early years of the internet and only a very small fraction of the population was online that it was very heavily male--and Straight Dope is an old forum.
  #17  
Old 08-14-2019, 07:14 PM
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Quote:
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Could you make an educated guess?
No more than you can. I don't have any more information than you do.
  #18  
Old 08-14-2019, 07:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Velocity View Post
The only way we could really notice absences might be high-profile departures of prolific posters. Spice Weasel is the only female poster that I can recall by name who has left the Dope for good, and I don't think it was because of not liking what other people were saying here, or anything like that.
DiossaBellissima was a great poster, as was Unauthorized Cinnamon, as was Anaamika, as was Eve, as was MeanOldLady (although she made an appearance recently!), as were a variety of others. Including my wife.

I don't know why all of them left, but a couple of them emailed me awhile ago when I mentioned a less misogynistic Internet home that my wife had found (fwiw, it's now a pretty tight-knit community, I think, and I'm not sure they're open to the public).
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