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Old 08-28-2011, 07:22 AM
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Male handwriting vs. female


In general, women seem to have much "nicer" handwriting than men. That is, it has a better "flow", it is more aesthetically pleasing, et cetera.

I know this isn't ALWAYS the case (there are exceptions, blah blah blah) but why, in general, do woman have better handwriting than men?

Last edited by CheeseDonkey; 08-28-2011 at 07:22 AM.
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Old 08-28-2011, 08:12 AM
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Because, once upon a time, they were socialized to do so. When handwriting was stressed in elementary school, girls, especially, were rewarded for having good handwriting. It was a feminine accomplishment.

This is not true these days. Handwriting isn't really stressed on the elementary level anymore. As an English teacher, I grade ~1400 hand-written 2-3 page essays a year and I can't even calculate how many smaller pieces of handwriting, and I can tell you that the gender divide is all but gone in handwriting. These days the neat writers are the kids who are just generally neat and precise, and that's pretty evenly distributed. Even among them, you don't often see the "pretty" scripts that were cultivated when I (now 34) was in school. Instead, boy or girl, you most often see a clear, precise manuscript that I, personally, find really easy to read.
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Old 08-28-2011, 11:06 AM
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I think it's commonly accepted that girls' fine motor skills develop earlier than boys' (here's one cite). If girls have better fine motor skills than boys during the years when they're learning handwriting, that could explain why they have better handwriting, on average, during their adult years.
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Old 08-28-2011, 11:15 AM
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I have always wondered if that very neat, but loopy and round lettering style favored by young girls is an affectation, a true gender trait, or simply my confirmation bias.

At a volunteer organization I deal with, there are handwritten logs of daily activities. I can look at the logbook and easily spot obvious girly writing, and when I look at the names, my assumption is correct. Of course, I see plenty of messy handwriting from women and tidy handwriting from men, but the loopy round letters seem to be girls-only.

This seems to be true even if they don't dot the "I"s with little hearts.
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Old 08-28-2011, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Manda JO View Post
This is not true these days. As an English teacher, I grade ~1400 essays a year and I can tell you that the gender divide is all but gone in handwriting.
Wow...I find this fascinating. When did this trend begin?
Related question: do pre-teen girls still dot the letter "i" with a little heart?


I've always found the variations in handwiting interesting---everybody starts out the same, but quickly becomes totally different.
In school ( back in the old days), every single child was taught to draw letters exactly the same way, and penalized for even minor discrepancies. I vaguely remember first grade (1965-ish), tracing each letter by following little arrows, like a connect-the-dots puzzle. Yet very quickly, each child develops his own, unique style, totally different than the traces we practiced over and over.

I've never understood why...no other learned behavior becomes so unique , so quickly.
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Old 08-28-2011, 12:54 PM
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Anecdote of something I've noticed: My mom has two different handwritings-- A neat one for things meant to be read by others, and a quick-and-messy one for notes to herself. And I've found that her messy handwriting is almost identical to my (one and only) handwriting. To the point that when I'm visiting her, I'll see something on the calendar, and wonder when I wrote that.

And when I'm TAing labs, or grading homeworks, I've seen plenty of truly messy handwritings, but none of them were from women. There's at least some selection bias here, since the classes I grade for tend to be disproportionately male, but not enough to account for the overwhelming bias I've seen.
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Old 08-28-2011, 04:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Manda JO View Post
Because, once upon a time, they were socialized to do so. When handwriting was stressed in elementary school, girls, especially, were rewarded for having good handwriting. It was a feminine accomplishment.

This is not true these days. Handwriting isn't really stressed on the elementary level anymore. As an English teacher, I grade ~1400 hand-written 2-3 page essays a year and I can't even calculate how many smaller pieces of handwriting, and I can tell you that the gender divide is all but gone in handwriting. These days the neat writers are the kids who are just generally neat and precise, and that's pretty evenly distributed. Even among them, you don't often see the "pretty" scripts that were cultivated when I (now 34) was in school. Instead, boy or girl, you most often see a clear, precise manuscript that I, personally, find really easy to read.
I'm almost 54. When I was in school, girls were severely criticized for having "sloppy" handwriting. We were told that we would be addressing envelopes and writing letters and notes, and it was very important that our handwriting be pretty. In addition to the regular penmanship practice that all students had to do, many girls spent considerable time and effort in developing a loopy, swirly style, suitable for love letters and such. The boys were told that their handwriting should be readable, but this wasn't really emphasized, and I can't remember ANY boy of my acquaintance who would voluntarily spend time to practice his penmanship. Most of the boys I knew, if they had any feelings on the matter at all, would say that they expected their wives and/or secretaries to do any handwriting for them.

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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
Anecdote of something I've noticed: My mom has two different handwritings-- A neat one for things meant to be read by others, and a quick-and-messy one for notes to herself. And I've found that her messy handwriting is almost identical to my (one and only) handwriting. To the point that when I'm visiting her, I'll see something on the calendar, and wonder when I wrote that.

And when I'm TAing labs, or grading homeworks, I've seen plenty of truly messy handwritings, but none of them were from women. There's at least some selection bias here, since the classes I grade for tend to be disproportionately male, but not enough to account for the overwhelming bias I've seen.
I must send you a handwritten note some day. My handwriting, even when I was doing a lot of handwriting, has always been quite messy. These days...well, when I write a check, the odds are about 50/50 as to whether or not I'm going to be able to give it to the recipient, or void it because it's just too hard to read. It's a good thing that most places will take debit cards these days...
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Old 08-28-2011, 05:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Thudlow Boink View Post
I think it's commonly accepted that girls' fine motor skills develop earlier than boys' (here's one cite). If girls have better fine motor skills than boys during the years when they're learning handwriting, that could explain why they have better handwriting, on average, during their adult years.
Human females both adult and otherwise have better fine motors skills in general than males do.
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Old 08-28-2011, 05:48 PM
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Originally Posted by chappachula View Post
Wow...I find this fascinating. When did this trend begin?
Related question: do pre-teen girls still dot the letter "i" with a little heart?
I don't have pre-teens, so I don't know the answer to that. I would say that ten years ago, when I started teaching, the bubbly/swirly handwriting was around, but less than when I was in school. It's been in steady decline since.

That said, I agree with Chronos that the really notably bad handwriting examples I have seen have consistently often been boys. I am not talking about "wow, that's messy" writing, I am talking about "wow, that's writing?" writing. The ones that suggest a learning disability, or where you can't state for certain if it's Latin letters or Hebrew. The outside edge of the bell curve.
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Old 08-28-2011, 05:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Der Trihs View Post
Human females both adult and otherwise have better fine motors skills in general than males do.
Cite?
Besides a content mill like eHow, I mean.

I learned cursive - with an ink quill pen no less - but I am female and my handwriting is basically atrocious now, 40+ years later. If I'm writing something that someone else has to decipher, I typically print in ALL CAPS so they can read it.

So while I agree that girls and young women may have easier-to-read, swirly with little hearts and circles dotting i's, it may also be a function of age or generation.
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Old 08-28-2011, 06:58 PM
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Originally Posted by chiroptera View Post
Cite?
Besides a content mill like eHow, I mean.
I don't know what "eHow" is...

Googling, I'm having trouble finding good cites because I keep getting scientific articles that won't allow me to access more than the abstract. Here's an example of what I mean; "Men excel at motor tasks requiring aiming accuracy whereas women excel at different tasks requiring fine motor skill" is mentioned, although the article is actually about male aiming skills.
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Old 08-28-2011, 07:21 PM
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I don't know what "eHow" is...

<snip>

.
You don't? It was your cite. And it's usuallly worthless as a credible source.
  #13  
Old 08-28-2011, 07:31 PM
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Originally Posted by chiroptera View Post
You don't? It was your cite. And it's usuallly worthless as a credible source.
No it wasn't; it was mine.

I was trying to back up something I already "knew" (as in, I'd heard it before more than once, without remembering where). I Googled and looked at the first few hits that came up, and picked the one of those that seemed to spell things out most clearly, but I wasn't trying to use it as a particularly authoritative, let alone primary, source.
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Old 08-28-2011, 09:19 PM
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Quote:
That said, I agree with Chronos that the really notably bad handwriting examples I have seen have consistently often been boys. I am not talking about "wow, that's messy" writing, I am talking about "wow, that's writing?" writing.
A couple of semesters ago, I had one where I looked at the name on the notebook, and wondered what nationality the name "Zemkiv" was. Eventually, by process of elimination against my classlist, I was able to determine that the name was actually "John".
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