Some time ago I was given a URL for an interesting web site: Hacker Factor Gender Guesser. It purports to use text to determine the gender of the author, and while I have no idea what the general validity of the method or how independent it is of things like education levels, socio-economic classes, religious points of view, cultural backgrounds, etc. the results of playing with it are interesting. Since I have written 1st person POV stories, of course I want those sections to read as if they were written by someone of the applicable gender.
I put in text from three of my novels, starting with Thinking Outside the Tower. It has a two first-person POV characters: Allison and Sean. I did the same for first-person sections of The Tower of the Ancients for Paul, Simon, Stephanie and Jenna. For all those I used the formal results, since it is a book. I then tried spoken dialog from characters David, Fiona, Jirina and Klara (they have no 1st person POV sections), but I used the informal results. These are the results I get:
- Allison – female
- Sean – male
- Paul – male
- Simon – female
- Jenna – female (strongly)
- Stephanie – female (strongly)
- David – male
- Fiona – female (just)
- Klara – female
- Jirina – female (strongly)
Many of those were described as weak, but the web site points out that European patterns tend to be weakly identified. Since David, Klara, Allison and Sean have European-like patterns, that is perfect. While Paul is a highly trained military officer, he is also fairly empathic and good with people. Jirina is very strongly secure in her gender role and identity, so that also makes sense Fiona is a heavily conflicted character who is ascerbic and judgemental, so that her patterns came out very close to the line is interesting. Simon did not surprise me: he’s a highly educated historian, a sensitive character who’s very conscious of his (poorly understood) emotions and not confident nor comfortable within himself.
Actually, the surprise was Stephanie. She’s a street smart and hardened, tough-minded witch that calls a spade a spade, contemplates eating her pet when she is starving, curses and swears, considers many emotions to be a weakness and will be in your face if it suits her. Sure, she understands loyalty, familial love and team-work, but when the cards go down, she’s a survivor. When she is attacked, she’s more worried about her chickens (food supply) than the humans she might kill when defending herself. Yet, the web site identified her as female. Interesting. Good, but interesting, since such attitudes have typically been associated with men.