Do you follow and retweet more men or more women on your Twitter account? Does it matter?
Writer/activist Joan Smith seems to think so, and she’s challenging you to view just how lopsided and gender-biased your retweets are, with her website Twee-Q (Twitter Equality Quotient). Joan teamed up with a Swedish equal opportunities organization, Crossing Borders, to create a simple but interesting web app. Enter the Twitter handle of any Twitter user and Twee-Q will display the gender proportion of that user’s recent retweets (over the last 100 tweets). A score of 10 means perfect gender parity in retweets, while something closer to 0 shows gender favoritism one way or the other.
I decided to put some notable Twits — I mean, uh, Twitterers — to the test by matching comparable popular Twitter accounts and presenting a head-to-head comparison from the Twee-Q results.
ROUND ONE: Pop stars Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga:
These are the two most followed profiles on the microblogging Twitter site right now. With a fairly gender neutral score of “8.2,” Lady Gaga’s account brings greater balance to her “little monsters,” while Justin’s “Beliebers” get a heavier dose of testosterone-fueled retweets … and I can’t believe I just typed out that sentence.
ROUND TWO: News/Political Personalities Cenk Uygur and Ann Coulter:
Both political commentators appear to lean heavily on the comments and opinions of men, but the liberal “Young Turks” and former MSNBC host is just slightly more gender neutral than conservative blowhard Coulter, who manages to retweet men ~90% of the time. A look at several other political Twitter accounts shows a consistent male bent, from President Barack Obama (87% male) to TV anchors like Melissa Harris Perry (55% male). This might tell us more about the old boys club (the pool of original tweeters available to retweet) in American political and media power centers, than it does about these Twitterers themselves.
ROUND THREE: Random Lightning Round! The good Lord himself, Media mogul Oprah Winfrey, “Twitter Espagnol”, and yours truly:
If you’ve read the Old Testament then you’re probably not surprised by God’s misogyny. Oprah clearly cheated, and Twitter Espagnol tiene más influencia masculine. My Twee-Q score is terrible, but in all fairness I’ve only retweeted seven times, ever, and I’m comforted by the fact that this is for entertainment purposes more than anything else. Like reading horoscopes or voting in presidential elections … right?
Motivated by Joan’s new book on contemporary gender roles and inequality, the Twee-Q site takes itself more seriously. “Gender equality begins in the conversation … We want to change the world by showing how each of us rank women’s and men’s contribution in a conversation … who we choose to listen to, who we choose to acknowledge.”
The site’s method is in no way scientific and only playfully urges gender-imbalanced Twitterers to clean up their act. However, there might be a story worth telling in the site’s grossly disproportionate accumulated stat totals; showing retweets from men at almost DOUBLE the rate of retweets from women.
Go to the Twee-Q website, type in YOUR Twitter handle, and see if you’re contributing to a balanced online conversation!