StumbleUpon and Gender Stereotyping

StumbleUpon and Gender Stereotyping

As I was creating a StumbleUpon account for ‘Awkward Geeks’ use I saw this, which is basically a standard question on most sites, and one I never give much thought to:

Since there were only those two options (some sites have a ‘rather not say’ option), and because I happen to be female, that’s what I clicked. I hesitated when I read the words, “This helps us find the best content for you”. I briefly wondered if I should chose ‘Male’ instead, even though I wanted to believe that they would not have a system that makes suggestions about what my interests are based on knowing nothing more than my gender. Because that would be silly.

Well, as it turns out, that’s exactly what they do. Knowing my gender means that StumbleUpon decided to give me a lot of so-called “Female” interests to start off with…

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There wasn’t anything that was geeky or nerdy, so I decided to choose the most generic/unisex options; Photoshop, Photography, Books, Music, and Movies. I couldn’t help but wonder why I didn’t get choices like; Technology, Science, Video Games, or Science Fiction. In an attempt to answer this question I decided to try an experiment, and created another account, this time saying I was ‘Male’. Guess what happened?

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Hey, there’s all the stuff that I like! It would seem that I’m interested in “guy stuff”. Which reminds me of the days when I was a little girl on the play ground, getting picked on for liking “boy things” (video games, comics, & sci-fi). Ah, memories.

Both males and females get some of the same basic interests that can be considered generic, or unisex, but then you’ll notice that men and women get some vastly different choices from each other…

Female Internets:  Relationships, Married Life, Gardening, Weight Loss, Beauty, Clothes, Entertaining Guests, Kids, Bargains/Coupons, Family, Fashion, Jewelry, etc.

Male Interests: Action Movies, Science Fiction, Video Games, Science, Technology, Electronic Devices, Entrepreneurship, Computers, Sports, Space Exploration, etc.

After you get beyond the sign up stage you can search and choose other interests, but I just found these initial so-called “gender specific” suggestions surprising, and insulting.

I mentioned this on twitter and @StumbleUponHelp replied to me and said this happens because the site generates results from their user-base. Really? If what they say is correct, then their female user base is all housewives, who apparently have no interests outside of that life. That seems unlikely. Let’s not overlook the fact that deciding the site should base interests on knowing ONLY gender is sexist, and no one likes stereotyping of any kind.

Now if you’ll excuse me I need to get back to the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant. I have woman things to do, like making sandwiches for the men folk as they watch sports and play video games.

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