Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmx DOT com

Science in London: The 2016 scientific society talks in London blog post

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Am I imagining slight gender differences in signup options for Stumbleupon?

See Update below

Very few of the articles I read on the internet have much relationship to my own gender. I do occasionally read things that mention gender though - today I read my friend Sarah's excellent blog post on gender discrimination at the CHI 2012 conference, but I think I'd be just as annoyed about that if I was a man.

I've just signed up to Stumbleupon, entirely so that I can pimp a useful blog post I wrote a couple of hours ago. During the signup I was a bit surprised to see it ask me for my gender so that the service could offer me more relevant information. I put female, and then tried (and failed) to find 'science' among the options available.






















Then I opened up a different browser, joined again but this time picked male and lo! there science is.






















Bit odd, no?

Is this likely to be just the result of a random generator pumping out a selection of variable options or have I - wait for it - Stumble(d)upon something interesting, or something that everyone already knew anyway?


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Update 6pm: Stumbleupon have got in touch to tell me that identifying your gender isn't essential, that categories are offered based on what other people of my gender have selected (in which case I'm a bit disappointed that they're not picking science... or is it that it's just not being presented to them?) and that all interests can be accessed here.

When I signed up I was looking for science, social media or medicine and wasn't that taken with the options presented to me - I think I'd have liked a shuffle button to pick from a fresh selection.

@adam_j666 also tried out the sign up and got a similar but not identical palette as 'male' which can be seen here.

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Update 9pm: Alex Brown (@alex_brovvn) went through the lists above and noted where there was overlap and where something appeared only to male registrants or female ones. His post makes interesting reading but we're aware that this is n=1 and may not represent everyone's signup experience. It's also possible that my age is a factor as well as my gender.

My concern is still that, because women are expressing an interest in a particular set of categories they are persistently offered (only?) those categories. Give them what they want. Well, fair enough I suppose from a business / advertising sense. But it's reminded me of concerns expressed previously about social media and the risk of 'channelising' everything (I'm not sure that's the exact word used!) to the point that you only (get to) see what you want because that's what you go looking for. I can see benefits in breaking out beyond that.

I'd quite like it if women were offered science on occasion - and I hope they already are and that my experience isn't typical - but I suppose that makes me a nanny state science communicator ;)

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