Why I Need Help from Scientists
Dear people who know things,
Please put me in touch with researchers who might be interested in analyzing 2000 user-generated answers to the prompt “I learned to program…”
A couple days ago, Jean Hsu wrote a blog post that really nailed something I’ve been thinking about for a long time now: guys (and girls who’ve been drawn into this particular aspect of geek culture) really need to tell you how incredibly young they were when they did the first of so many amazing things they’ve done without even trying.
While it may not be consciously intended as intimidation, it can easily function as such. This sentiment has been expressed before, and showed up with references in a comment from Caroline on Boing Boing. So thanks to her for that:
Jean’s post made me think about looking more deeply at the ilearnedtoprogram.com data set. Now I didn’t ask people to self-report gender on the input form, so I’m doing the same thing that she was doing: inferring gender based on names and photos. I’ve published 505 stories, approximately 68% from males, and 32% from females, and a handful that I couldn’t really discern.
I took those published stories, and pasted the text for each gender into Wordle. Here’s the male cloud:
And this is the female cloud:
The terms “games” and “college” seem to have the biggest difference. Now I’m well aware that this isn’t even meaningful textual analysis, let alone scholarship. But hopefully it points in the direction of something interesting or helpful that we can investigate further. Anyone working in this area and interested in looking at some user-generated content? Let’s talk.