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Ultra sexism on online economics forum

from The Daily Californian (Berkeley)


A recent study on gender stereotypes in the anonymous online forum Economics Job Market Rumors, or EJMR, revealed what appears to be a hostile environment toward women in some circles of the economics field.

Recent campus graduate Alice Wu conducted the study as part of her senior thesis, using EJMR posts from 2014 to 2016. The focus of the study, according to Wu, was to “examine whether people in academia portray and judge women and men differently in everyday ‘conversations’ that take place online.”

Wu, an economics and applied mathematics double major, said in an email that she first learned about EJMR though friends interested in reading about prominent economists on the forum.

“I was very shocked when I saw the gender stereotyping remarks, given that its users are highly-educated graduate students in economics,” Wu said in her email.

Wu used her experience with text analysis from a campus machine learning course to identify and allocate gender classifiers in EJMR posts such as “he” and “she” as strongly predictive of male versus female subjects. Wu’s analysis found that the 30 words most indicative of a discussion about women, in order, were: “hotter,” “lesbian,” “bb,” “sexism,” “tits,” “anal,” “marrying,” “feminazi,” “slut,” “hot,” “vagina,” “boobs,” “pregnant,” “pregnancy,” “cute,” “marry,” “levy,” “gorgeous,” “horny,” “crush,” “beautiful,” “secretary,” “dump,” “shopping,” “date,” “nonprofit,” “intentions,” “sexy,” “dated” and “prostitute.”

The list of words with the strongest predictive power for males contained words more directly associated with economics and academics, including “adviser,” “Wharton,” “Austrian” — a school of economic thought — and “mathematician.” Nine out of the 30 words with the highest predictive power for men were directly related to economics, while almost none of the 30 words in the list for women were directly related to economics.
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