Saturday, July 07, 2007

Amateur Science Experiment

I read a recent study that claims women and men both talk the same amount, that is, use roughly 16,000 words per day. This opinion piece by Steve Chapman says [paraphrase] "No way!" I am inclined to agree. So today I did an experiment on the train. The train was full and I decided to as quickly as I can count how many men were talking and how many women. To minimize error I did this as quickly as I could, so that I didn't count both people in a conversation that was being dominated by one party. The result: 12 women talking; 2 men. That's what I expected, I did not think at the time to count the number of women and men to make sure this result wasn't just a corollary of there being more women than men. My rough estimate was that ratios were fairly close to 1:1. This result might be simply explained by the fact that a larger number of men travel alone, while women almost never do; making it more likely that they will talk with people they are comfortable with. Or maybe women just talk more.


Blogger PastorNancy said...

i note the surprise with which the report about = average word counts by gender. i wonder if speech in public, which in my experience is a burden women are obliged to carry disproportionately, confounds. my private experience, at work and at home, includes an awful lot of being unwelcome in the discussion, being talked over by louder voices, and outright silencing.
it's hard to study things like this without describing environmental and social variables.


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