Perception v reality of women's contributions to debate June 5, 2019 3:41 PM   Subscribe

A while back there was a data point raised in a thread that said, women only need to speak for something like 17% of the time for it to be perceived that they have spoken for 50% of the time. Can you help me find this post/comment and/or point to relevant research around it?

It seems most likely to have been in the blue but I guess grey or green is also possible. We're doing some gender related work and I want to see if we can amend the method to look at this as well.
posted by biffa to MetaFilter-Related at 3:41 PM (16 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media (wikipedia) (from wiki):
After watching children’s TV with her young daughter, Geena Davis noticed that the large majority of television shows lacked a large number of female characters. This inspired her to think critically about what American media showed to young children; and to eventually investigate the role of gender in media.[2] She realized the importance of the female representation in children’s shows, as these representations can impact how young girls see themselves. [3] Specifically, Davis wanted to focus on television shows, films, and other media outlets that are intended for children under 11, as these are formative years for one’s identity.[4] After conducting research on this type of entertainment, Davis found that three times more men than women appear in children’s television shows and films.The research also showed that characters in the workplace were 80.5% male and only 19.5% female.[5].[4] Davis studied "122 G, PG, and PG-13 films theatrically-released between 2006 and 2009.” [6] Generally, she found that “only 29.2% of all speaking characters are female,” and these women are more sexualized than the men.[6] As “children are engaging with media up to 7-10 hours/day,” the representation of women in children’s television shows and films has a major impact on how young girls believe they should act and how they view themselves.[4] Davis subsequently founded the eponymous Institute in 2004. At its core, the Geena Davis Institute believes that, too often, the media “sidelines, hypersexualizes, or simply omits” women, particularly in movies and television.[3]

Geena Davis was motivated to start her foundation because of her Academy Award Nominated role in Ridley Scott’s Thelma and Louise, the 1991 film that she had said changed her life. When the film was released to overwhelming acclaim it made her realize just how few opportunities there were to see empowered female characters on screen, and it inspired her to establish her institute.[7]
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:44 PM on June 5, 2019 [5 favorites]

more Geena Davis: The 'Feminized Society' Myth - "Geena Davis Institute for Gender In Media found that, in crowd scenes, women tend to comprise about 17 percent of any given crowd. She's argued, based on outside data and her own interpretations, that this imbalance relates to and reinforces the way men perceive the actual number of women in any given room.

“If there's 17 percent women, the men in the group think it's 50-50,” she told NPR. “And if there's 33 percent women, the men perceive that as there being more women in the room than men.”"
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:50 PM on June 5, 2019 [9 favorites]

This article mentions some of the research on the topic, giving some names of researchers to look for.
posted by zompist at 4:05 PM on June 5, 2019 [4 favorites]

I know exactly what you're talking about but can't seem to find reference to it on Metafilter, though I know it's come up. This post describes the research in question, with some critiques of it. Not an academic source, but it might help you find what you're looking for.
posted by brook horse at 5:18 PM on June 5, 2019

Maybe you were thinking of this comment?

"The Geena Davis quote is from an interview with NPR:

DAVIS: My theory is that since all anybody has seen, when they are growing up, is this big imbalance - that the movies that they've watched are about, let's say, 5 to 1, as far as female presence is concerned - that's what starts to look normal. And let's think about - in different segments of society, 17 percent of cardiac surgeons are women; 17 percent of tenured professors are women. It just goes on and on. And isn't that strange that that's also the percentage of women in crowd scenes in movies? What if we're actually training people to see that ratio as normal so that when you're an adult, you don't notice?

LYDEN: I wonder what the impact is of all of this lack of female representation.

DAVIS: We just heard a fascinating and disturbing study, where they looked at the ratio of men and women in groups. And they found that if there's 17 percent women, the men in the group think it's 50-50. And if there's 33 percent women, the men perceive that as there being more women in the room than men."
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:32 PM on June 5, 2019 [5 favorites]

I *think* the study Davis cites is this one: Gender Stereotypes: An Analysis of Popular Films and TV (.pdf) Dr. Stacy L. Smith - Annenberg School for Communication • Crystal Allene Cook - The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:50 PM on June 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

Men talk just as much as women, study says (Chron, 2007)
So, if you buy into the stereotype, it stands to reason that women talk a lot more than men, right?


A University of Texas at Austin psychologist and his colleagues appear to have laid to rest the long-standing myth that women talk more than men. Their study of 400 male and female students in the United States and Mexico found that men and women both say about 16,000 words a day, or 17 words a minute, during waking hours.

The new research, to be published Friday in the journal Science, shatters a recently popularized myth that women speak about 20,000 words a day compared with 7,000 for men.

"The culture is convinced there are these big differences," said the study's senior author, James Pennebaker, chairman of UT's psychology department. "But no one has ever bothered to ask where the numbers came from." Pennebaker said the inspiration to put the numbers to the test came less than a year ago when he read a Q&A in The New York Times between interviewer Deborah Solomon and Dr. Louann Brizendine, a professor of neuropsychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco.

Brizendine had written The Female Brain, which makes a biological case for "feminine behaviors" such as chatterboxing. During the interview, the 20,000-versus-7,000 figure came up. After the book's publication, those numbers were widely circulated in the media.

"I just knew that couldn't be right," said Pennebaker, who studies the use of language and emotion. [...] The source of Brizendine's usage of the 20,000/7,000 word split, which she dropped in subsequent editions after psychologists complained about the book's first printing, remains a more serious matter to some scholars. Brizendine said she relied on a "variety of secondary sources" but no scientific study in particular.

That's because no original scientific sources exist for such a claim, said Mark Liberman, a professor of linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania.

His own inquiry found the earliest use of the figures by James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, who employed it as a "guesstimate."

"My current belief is that this started as someone's idea of a plausible estimate and was turned into a false scientific factoid by writers who like to misuse the authority of science," Liberman said.
posted by Little Dawn at 8:41 PM on June 5, 2019 [6 favorites]

searching for: "women perceived talking"

Speaker sex and perceived apportionment of talk

Anne Cutler (a1) and Donia R. Scott (a2)
Published online: 28 November 2008


It is a widely held belief that women talk more than men; but experimental evidence has suggested that this belief is mistaken. The present study investigated whether listener bias contributes to this mistake. Dialogues were recorded in mixed-sex and single-sex versions, and male and female listeners judged the proportions of talk contributed to the dialogues by each participant. Female contributions to mixed-sex dialogues were rated as greater than male contributions by both male and female listeners. Female contributions were more likely to be overestimated when they were speaking a dialogue part perceived as probably female than when they were speaking a dialogue part perceived as probably male. It is suggested that the misestimates are due to a complex of factors that may involve both perceptual effects such as misjudgment of rates of speech and sociological effects such as attitudes to social roles and perception of power relations.

... link as well
posted by sebastienbailard at 1:50 AM on June 6, 2019 [4 favorites]

Many thanks everyone! I'm thinking I may have misremembered the specific data point but all these links are really useful and are helping me go in the right direction. Much appreciated.
posted by biffa at 6:19 AM on June 6, 2019

I have a personal data point from attending a non-profit's board meeting that was tracked for airtime along gender lines. Here's a summary of the result:

Recently, four men and three women met for two hours as equal participants on a topic about which they all had expertise and passion. There was no facilitator and the group had been working together for a year. Unknown to any of the participants, a non-participating observer was tracking the conversation dynamics of the meeting. In the two hours, men's total spoken contribution--"airspace"--was more than triple the women's total contribution. The "most talkative" woman spoke just two minutes more than the least talkative man. Notable was that no woman had commanded more airspace than total silence throughout the meeting though most of the men had. Twice during the meeting two women had to repeatedly and directly tell male colleagues to stop interrupting and allow them to finish speaking. Immediately after the meeting, the second most talkative man pulled two of the women aside to complain that he felt people didn't want to listen to him.

Once I learned of the tracking, I thought it was also notable that the man who complained after the meeting complained to female peers with the expectation that it was their job, and not their male colleagues', to listen to his complaint and correct the dynamic. When presented with the findings, none of the men believed it and all of the women did.
posted by cocoagirl at 8:45 AM on June 6, 2019 [16 favorites]

If you're studying this in a particular context and want to gather data yourself, you might also be interested in the dude timer.
posted by dkg at 7:21 PM on June 6, 2019 [2 favorites]

Thanks, for the additions, I think I have lost the exact place I got this as I may have remembered it a bit off, but this is all grist to the writing mill so thanks for taking the trouble to post.

you might also be interested in the dude timer.

My yet to be employed RA thanks you from the bottom of their heart!
posted by biffa at 9:19 AM on June 7, 2019

Related... Parable of the Polygons
posted by oceano at 7:40 PM on June 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

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