The Plank

Politics: Still A Man's Game

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Because I don't have anything better to do with my day than waste my time on stupid Internet gimmicks, this morning I clicked over to "Mike on Ads" to see whether my web surfing reflects my gender. If you haven't heard or read about this little toy yet, it basically looks at your browser history to see what sites you've visited. Then, using data on which genders are more likely to use each site, it guesses whether you are male or female and assigns a probability to it. Ezra Klein and Jeff Goldberg both tested out at 97 percent male. (In other words, the likelihood that the two of them were men was 97 percent.) Andrew Sullivan tested out at 92 percent, which is where I came out, too.

But, like Ezra, I'm more fascinated by the underlying data about who uses which website. The site that gave me the lowest male/highest female score was nwa.com, which is the reservations site for Northwest Airlines. (I live near Detroit, a Northwest hub, so that's usually the site where I make travel plans.) Are women more likely to make their own travel reservations online? Does this simply reflect the heavy usage by administrative workers in offices, the majority of whom, I bet, are also women?

My highest male score came on RealClearPolitics, whose ratio of male to female users is 1.82. Close behind that was Politico, with a ratio of 1.7. And that doesn't seem so surprising until you realize that both figures are significantly higher than the ratio at mlb.com. Mlb.com is the site for Major League Baseball, where I follow the Red Sox. The ratio there is just 1.33.

I'm not saying girls and women can't like baseball, naturally. But it goes to show you just how male-dominated our political conversation remains, even today. (And, no, I don't think that's a terribly good thing.)

--Jonathan Cohn

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