Did you know that men and women write in a different way? They do, but not necessarily according to their gender.
This tiny project has turned up some deep insights. But how does using data this way make us feel? Your answers would be invaluable
The social psychologist James W Pennebaker spent over 30 years studying how writing style is related to Psychological and Behavioural phenomena. One of his findings shows that there are a number of differences in the way men and women write. Basically, men use certain kinds of word more than women, and vice versa. Not the meaty nouns and adjectives but the words in between. The little words. The words you use without thinking.
Take the word I. A tiny word. It's a pronoun just like you, me, him, her or she. People words. Pennebaker's study proved that women are statistically more likely to use pronouns than men, suggesting female writing to be more social in nature.
Men on the other hand talk more about 'things'. Stuff. They're more likely to use words such as a, an, the and some. These are articles, and we use them to describe objects, even if we're referring to a person (the man, a woman etc).
These are just two differences - there are many more. The point is that's it's not what we write about, but the way we write about it. So you can talk about football in a 'female' way (refer to your team as 'we') or a 'male' way ('the game was frustrating'). It's about the technical syntax, not the subject you're writing about.
We took this study and applied it on our own audience. We analysed their writing style and then used a statistical model to predict the likelihood of each user being either a man or a woman. We received a decent result - correctly identifying gender in 78% of the times.
The interesting thing, though, was the outliers. Men that write like women and women that write like men. Your sex does not predefine your gender - at least in terms of writing style. This inspired us to create this more generic version.