Do readers judge female characters more harshly?

Oh yes, writes Maria Konnikova in The Atlantic: "Work by social psychologists like Susan Fiske and Mina Cikara has repeatedly demonstrated that women are perceived and evaluated on different criteria than men. ... ">Now, even fictional females are feeling the sting."



  1. And then consider that a job application is a kind of writing, and the writer is the one being judged.

  2. John is ambitious, driven, and intelligent. He works for a high-profile
    consulting firm and sits on the advisory board of a political think
    tank. Hold him in your mind’s eye, and ask yourself a question: In the
    absence of other information, would you want to be friends with him?
    Now, let’s just change for a moment John’s name to Joan.

    Perhaps not the best example, because my douchey counter is clicking  no matter the gender.

    1. To be sure, there’s also sexism in the hatefully-pretentious, masturabotry world of “consulting”. I shudder to think of the laughably-po-faced autoerotica that must be traded in the (surely-sexist) realm of thinktankery.

  3. I’ve never been able to put my finger on why, but the prose style in a book makes me read it in my head in a male or female voice. Even when I check the cover & find out that I’m wrong, the original gendered voice persists.

  4. I’ve been trying to decide if I’m kind of sexist for liking “Breaking Bad” so much more than the later seasons of “Weeds.” Both shows feature middle-class suburbanites-turned-drug-dealers who make decisions that eventually have terrible consequences for people around them, but I have much more fun admiring/despising Walter White than Nancy Botwin.

    1. Yeah, same here.  Funny to hear someone else mention it.  I’ve concluded that we’re good on this one-Weeds just got too corny and I lost interest-’bout the time Nancy was doing the ‘brick dance’ down in Mexico (instead of, say, master minding a whole death and betrayal scheme with Macgyver tricks thrown in).  Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaybe sexism had something to do with why Nancy’s character was never permitted to fully break out of the wacky light-but-edgy comedy mold, but maybe it just wasn’t as good a show.   It’s weird, but I still think that Big Love was one of the least sexist shows on TV.  And it was about multiple wives in a religion that strictly maintains a male-over-female hierarchy.  FWIW. 

  5. So, this article arguing that we have negative stereotypes about female characters is based on conjecture and negative stereotypes of  actual men, and not actual objective data (not even an anecdote!):

    “I’d venture to guess that she simply didn’t think twice about her
    question or its relative merit (or lack thereof) because, well, she was a
    woman talking to a woman about a woman. As David Daley pointed out in Salon,
    the question “might not be posed to a male author in quite this way.”
    Nor, I would add, would it be posed the same way by a male interviewer
    (who would be all too aware of its potential bias) or about a male
    protagonist (who would be evaluated differently to begin with). McCleave
    thought herself on safe ground—and ran afoul of the gender biases that
    tend to permeate our perceptions on a fundamental level, female or no.”

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