Thursday, April 24, 2008

Women, Knowledge, and Blogging

Women generally perform less well than men on tests of current events or political knowledge.

Methodology Alert

(Why? In part men are more likely to guess compared to women who say they "don't know." Both are coded the same way, with a "0" if wrong or don't know, a "1" if correct. If guys guess, there's a 50-50 shot they'll get lucky, thus increasing their scores. Some of it is the way girls and boys are raised, a socio-cultural explanation. Some of it has to do with a political culture skewed heavily toward men in gray suits, which improves male scores. Find a state with a woman senator and women tend to do better. Ask political questions that involve women in roles of authority, women do better. And so on.)

End Methodology Alert

So I was reading this excellent piece on female bloggers by Sheila Gibbons published in The Villager. It strikes me that as girls and women blog more, with shifting media diets toward online, we should see improvements in the political knowledge scores of females. Women will write about topics that matter to them, other women will read them, and hopefully the gender knowledge gap will disappear.

That of course presumes we ask the right sorts of questions that do not increase the gender gap, sometimes artifically. I'm not a PC guy. If the president and chief justice are men and knowledge tests include those legitimate questions about policy or office holding, women have no excuse in getting them wrong as compared to men. But I do believe the online world will flatten some of the traditional differences we've often found in the data. At least I hope so.

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