Jahna Otterbacher and I will be headed to CSCW in February to present our paper -Â Learning the Lingo? Gender, Prestige and Linguistic Adaptation in Review Communities.Â Our findings suggest that women do participate in online communities but that their contributions get buried and stay mostly invisible. See the Room for Debate feature Where are the Women in Wikipedia? for a popular press take on the problem.Â Read the abstract after the jump.
Women and men communicate differently in both face-to- face and computer-mediated environments. We study linguistic patterns considered gendered in reviews contributed to the Internet Movie Database. IMDb has been described as a male-majority community, in which females contribute fewer reviews and enjoy less prestige than males. Analyzing reviews posted by prolific males and females, we hypothesize that females adjust their communication styles to be in sync with their male counterparts. We find evidence that while certain characteristics of “female language” persevere over time (e.g., frequent use of pronouns) others (e.g., hedging) decrease with time. Surprisingly, we also find that males often increase their use of “female” features. Our results indicate, that even when they resemble men’s reviews linguistically, women’s reviews still enjoy less prestige and smaller audiences.