Friday, December 30, 2005

Online Gender

So I started a post yesterday at work about the media reporting of this PEW research study, looking at how men and women us the internet, and then I got busy. (stupid actually having work to do) Echidne has finished it for me, here and here.

The study focuses on the differences between men and women, so obviously that's what we're hearing about. But the differences are being reported seriously out of proportion to what is actually going on. It is absolutely disgusting. This is an example of how sensationalized reporting completely blows scientific research out of proportion. And now it will become "common wisdom" that men and women use the internet different, because women are touchy feely and into relationships and men like to use ebay and check investments. (Although only 20% of men look at porn? YEAH RIGHT! And 5% of women? Sad, come on people, just be honest no one is going to judge you....Much. )

Some amazing headlines:

Men log on for news, women for the viewsTimes of India, India - 22 hours agoSAN FRANCISCO: Internet users share many common interests, but men are heavier consumers of news, stocks, sports and pornography while more women look for ...

Men want facts, women seek relations on Web -, UK - Dec 28, 2005By Eric Auchard. SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Internet users share many common interests, but men are heavier consumers of news, stocks ...

Gender gap alive and well onlineBBC News, UK - Dec 28, 2005Gender divisions persist online but it is no longer about whether more men or women use the net, research shows. A study by the ...

Men and women even do things differently, TX - 15 hours ago(12/29/05 - NEW YORK) - Anyone who's spent any time seeing men and women interact on any level would agree there are differences between the way the two ... (VOMIT!)

Men surf sleaze, women eye heavenFinancial Express, India - Dec 29, 2005The study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project to be released on Thursday finds men are slightly more intense users of the Web. ...

I think this (partially stolen from Echidne's Post) really points out the absurdity of the headlines and sensationalized reporting:

The only one of those that I find really compelling is the 32% more men looking up sport statistics. But really, I am Shinobi's complete lack of surprise. And supporting health information. But a 10% difference is hardly compelling evidence of a gender gap.

Non Sucky Headline Award Goes to:

Online, genders differ only slightlySan Jose Mercury News, USA - 22 hours agoBy Anick Jesdanun. NEW YORK - Women are now as likely to use the Internet as men -- about two-thirds of both genders do -- yet a ...

But they still used the AP's amazingly sucky article underneath it. At least the headline was right.


Pyrrho said...

what's porn? havn't heard of it.

Pyrrho said...

our press is pathetic and is a thing of it's own nature now, it's not how we get news or facts (if it ever was)... it's just sort of the parody of itself.

the difference between scientific searchs and current "journalism" is that scientists are looking to discover things they didn't expect... but journalism wants thinngs we expect, because the reader goes, "uh huh... yup yup I knew it all already".

that's not real journalism, of course, but the traditional sort that DOES want to find something unexpected has the problem of trying to make everything unexpected! shocking!!

You certainly have found a great example though, e.g. the "facts" vs. "relationships" claim in the headlines have nothing to do with the data.

Shinobi said...

I don't know if it is so much their desire to report expected conclusions for the readers sake. It seems to me (in my recent experience with the press) that they are mostly interested in the snappiest headline possible, and that once they find that headline they go out of their way to support it with carefully selected factoids.

The problem is that journalists aren't scientists, they are averagely intelligent people with average thoughts on topics so they only come up with headlines that average people would also come up with, so the average person goes, yeah.

Eh, maybe I just hate them.