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Instructions:

The “gender guesser” is a simplified version of an algorithm developed by Moshe Koppel, Bar-Ilan University in Israel, and Shlomo Argamon, Illinois Institute of Technology, to predict the gender of an author. In this assignment, you will be asked to visit the gender guesser website, at the address specified below, in order to determine what sorts of linguistic variables are being used in the program’s designation of the author as either “male” or “female"*.

 

http://www.hackerfactor.com/GenderGuesser.php (Links to an external site.)

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  1. Copy into the program something you have written and see if the gender guesser pronounces you as male or female.
    • Was the guesser correct?
    • What linguistic cues do you think the algorithm used to make its determination?

  2. Copy a variety of texts of different lengths into the gender guesser (e.g., excerpts from essays you have written, blog entries, Facebook conversations, emails). Which of these texts are interpreted as authored by a man? Which by a woman?
    • In your answer, include some of the texts and the gender of the author (to the best of your knowledge)
    • I recommend using some informal sources (texts, blog posts) and some formal sources (scholarly papers, our LING1000 readings, essays)

  3. Try to determine the linguistic traits that are behind the designations above. Do any of these ‘traits’ conform to the kinds of things discussed by language and gender scholars for spoken language? Give at least 2 specific examples.
    • It will help to reference Bucholtz "Language, gender and sexuality"  Download Bucholtz "Language, gender and sexuality"and Lectures 13-15.
      • (e.g. the use of directness, commands, slang, hedges, formality, informality, contractions, tag questions, hierarchical language, intimate language, etc.)

  4. Surf around the site and find links to articles about the program design. Try to get a handle on how these engineers determine gender linguistically. Describe at least 2 of their criteria. Do their ideas make sense to you, given what you have learned in Module 04?
    • Consider concepts like biological essentialismperformativity, and intersectionality in your response.
    • Starting point: the Gender Guesser relies on a strict "male"/"female" binary. How might that present a problem to its accuracy?

 

Notes:

  • The purpose of this assignment is to think critically about how language and gender ideologies influence the development of technology like the Gender Guesser. Your responses should focus on language!

Requirements:

  • At least one page, double-spaced
  • 12pt font, Times New Roman, 1" margins
  • No headers or spaces between paragraphs
  • Word or PDF



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