Yet Another Troubling Gender Gap Has Emerged

IMG_0043-1_retouched_JessicaNashPhotographed by Jessica Nash.
Anyone who writes for the Internet has been warned not to read the comments. It's true: The things people comment can be hurtful, rude, and insensitive. But, they can also be positive, encouraging, and helpful. Plus, no matter how many times someone tells you not to read them, human nature compels you to. Online comments have become a powerful tool and are the source of much debate. Studies have even shown they have the power to change minds.
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Who exactly is doing the commenting, though? A new study examined nearly 1 million comments made on The New York Times website between June 2013 and January 2014. And? "Only 25 percent of comments were made by women, even though 44 percent of New York Times readers are female," Emma Pierson, the study's author, reveals.
Even more interesting observations emerge from the data. For example, "Women were more likely to comment on articles written by women." And, although females were less likely to comment than males, their remarks received more recommendations from other readers than those from men. Also, women's comments were even likelier to be recommended when made in male-dominated forums.
Pierson also notes that, "Female commenters are more likely to remain anonymous, and anonymous commenters receive fewer recommendations." She ties this observation in with a controversial Harvard Business School experiment in which female students were encouraged to speak up more in the classroom. When they did, their grades improved.
Females of the Internet: Don't be afraid to speak up. In the case of Pierson's study, The Times actually used her findings when developing a new commenting platform. At R29, we're always listening. Your feedback not only spurs important discussions, but also helps us shape and develop content in a way that leads to a happier commenting discussion for everyone. (MSN News)
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