Sunday, 10 November 2013

Women should .... and men should ....

There was a very interesting report in Global Voices last week.  It reported on an unusual way to measure negative attitudes to women's rights in different countries across the world.  Type phrases such as "Women should", "Women must", "Women shouldn't" etc into Google's search box and see what auto-completions are suggested.  These auto-completions are generated on the basis of previous searches conducted by users and so they measure the commonality of searches beginning with these phrases.  Some examples (from Google New Zealand):

  • Women should not (speak in church, work, preach, vote)
  • Women must not (teach, preach, wear men's clothing)
I was interested to compare these searches with corresponding searches where the word "Men" replaced "Women".  For the cases above I found
  • Men should not (marry, wear shorts, wear sandals)
  • Men must not (walk too late, cut down trees)
The Global Voices article gave many examples of "Women" searches in other languages.  It would be interesting to see the results with "Men" replacing "Women" there too.

In any case, this small experiment adds weight to the main point: that women remain disadvantaged and oppressed in many societies.

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