Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Women Mentioned More than Men

I was playing with Google's new tool Books Ngram Viewer and discovered that women are now mentioned in books more than men.

Dana Chivvis wrote, "The Books Ngram Viewer, which Google created with the Encyclopedia Britannica and scientists from Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, takes 500 billion words from 5.2 million digitized books and allows you to track their usage over time. The result is a database that shows when certain phrases, people, ideas and trends faded in and out of fashion."

"The Harvard team has named the new analysis "culturomics," as a means of expressing the idea that culture can be studied quantitatively. They have come to some interesting conclusions already, that people become famous at a much earlier age today than before, for instance, but that they also fall from notoriety much faster too. Their study was published in the journal Science today.

"They've come up with something that is going to make an enormous difference in our understanding of history and literature," Robert Darnton, cultural historian and director of the Harvard University Library, told The Wall Street Journal.

Erez Lieberman Aiden, one of the lead researchers at Harvard, told Scientific American that they do not see the Ngram Viewer as an answer factory. Instead, many of the findings in the database will elicit a multitude of questions.

The current Ngram database took about four years to assemble, and the team intends to add more books, magazines, newspapers and blogs -- and also non-text-based work such as art -- in the future."

Here's the result of my effort:

One thing that curious about this result is that the total mentions of men and women have declined over this time period. Books are mentioning both genders less?

I tried woman and man as well as she and he. In both these cases the female gender does not yet get mentioned more or even as much as the male gender. And, in both these cases the total mentions is decreasing.

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