Are you a man or a woman? Don’t worry if there’s no straightforward answer to that question, or if the straightforward answer is “no” or “yes.” Whatever your answer is, how do you know?
Now one group of researchers says your Twitter posts are a clear giveaway. In a study by Mitre of a group of Twitterers who’d listed gender elsewhere, a computer program guessed correctly more than 75% of the time by analyzing users’ Tweets, and nearly two-thirds of the time by analyzing a single Tweet from each person.
Fifty-five percent of the users in the group’s sample identified themselves as female.
As with all research that confirms stereotypes, this should be examined closely. The most obvious flaw in the study is the manifest selection bias. People whose gender is outside a simple binary were excluded entirely, and people who are willing to note their gender online are presumably more (normatively) “masculine” or “feminine” in general, including on Twitter (someone who has a vagina, drinks cosmos, and knits is whatever gender they say they are, of course, but one answer would be less surprising than others).