A new report has found that many conversations on Twitter are heavily gender-biased towards men.
Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich used an algorithm to apply the Bechdel test, which measures bias in conversations between two members of the same gender, to real-life conversations on Twitter, and found that the service was heavily gender-biased towards males.
The study analysed American Twitter users who shared the link to a movie trailer on YouTube over six days, as well as users who tweeted with them over a longer period of time.
About 300 million tweets from around 170,000 users were analysed to create something like a long movie script which formed the basis of an 'interaction network'.
David Garcia, a researcher at the Chair of Systems Design at ETH Zurich, said, "I expected that on Twitter men would mention women in their conversations as often as women mentioned men."
"The analysis revealed a different picture: Twitter conversations among men featured fewer mentions of women," Garcia said.
"In turn, there were more conversations between female Twitter users that contained references to men than conversations without a male reference."
However, the researchers said that the tweets from students were much less biased against women. Tweets from fathers, on the other hand, were more gender biased, as they interacted less with female users and mentioned women less often even than childless men.
"Possibly this is because fathers tend to be married while men without children may be married or single", Garcia added.
"It appears that Twitter is more male-biased. In comparison, conversations via Myspace, another social network, displayed less of a gender bias than those on Twitter, probably because conversations are more private on Myspace."
The Bechdel test is named after American cartoonist Alison Bechdel, and tests whether a work of fiction features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man.
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