LINGUIST List 4.310

Mon 26 Apr 1993

Disc: Sex of linguists (with corrections)

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  1. Susan Herring, sex of linguists

Message 1: sex of linguists

Date: Mon, 26 Apr 93 01:40:57 CDsex of linguists
From: Susan Herring <>
Subject: sex of linguists

[This mesage was sent earlier on LINGUIST, but arrived in a
truncated form. We are thus resending the posting.]

Dick Hudson asked about the ratio of men to women who normally
participate on LINGUIST, claiming to have found a 5:1 ratio in
the messages he received in response to a query on 'rude negators'.

First of all, I would like to point out that from the names listed
in Dick's summary, the ratio would be 3.25:1 (counting Benji Wald as
male!), unless a number of the men (but not the women) wrote more than
once. This is of course possible, and consistent with the general trend
for men to contribute more on the topic. Second, having done a quick
count of the contributions on the topic of 'rude negators' myself, I note
that the ratio is in fact much higher if only messages that were
publically posted to LINGUIST are considered; thus, as of the time of
Dick's summary (April 15), 16 men had posted to LINGUIST, as compared
to *zero* women. To date, the count for public postings is 36 men (92%)
and 3 women (8%), for a ratio of 12:1.

For the sake of comparison, I include the following statistics:

 M F
1991 LSA members 54% 46%
(from names from which sex could reliably be inferred)
1991 LINGUIST subscribers 64% 36%
(ditto on methodology)

Participation on LINGUIST (1991-92)
participants 79% 21%
messages 80% 20%
words 88% 12%
(averages based on 2 extended discussions -- "cognitive linguistics"
(Feb-March 1991) and "professeurE" (Sept.-Oct. 1991) -- and a count of all
messages posted during a random two-week period (May 30-June 12, 1992))

To this we may now add

Participation in 'rude negators' discussion:
participants 92% 8%

In short, fewer women have contributed on the topic of 'rude negators'
than usual, if we assume that what was 'usual' a year ago still holds
now. Why might this be?


I would appreciate it if everyone reading this message could take a
minute to answer the following questions:

1. To date, 39 messages have been posted to LINGUIST on the topic 'rude
negators'. Approximately what percentage of these messages did you read?

2. Did you contribute to the discussion on LINGUIST?

3. Did you exchange messages privately with another subscriber on this topic?

4. If you did not contribute on this topic, why not?

5. How would you characterize the discussion on 'rude negators' as compared
with other discussions on LINGUIST?

6. Your sex: M F

7. Your academic position: Student, Assist. Prof, Assoc. Prof, Prof,
Lecturer [non tenure-track], not affiliated with academia

E-mail your response to, or mail a hard
copy to: Susan Herring, Program in Linguistics, University of Texas,
Arlington, TX 76019. (The identity of individual respondents will be
kept strictly confidential.)

If enough people respond, I will summarize the responses and post them
to the list. Then we may have an answer to this most interesting question.

Susan Herring
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