Women in Sets

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Women in Sets

Postby Big Y » Sun Jan 21, 2018 8:49 pm

With all the marches going on this weekend, I decided it was a good time to look at women showing up in question sets. I looked at two high school sets and did two things:
1) I counted how many times the answer was an actual male and an actual female and compared the two.
2) I made a list of all the answerlines that were related directly to real or imaginary women in any way.

Once again, I don't want to name the sets, because I don't want to turn this into people defending themselves. Also, I freely admit that my method is simplistic and does not give a definitive measure of whether a set is inclusive of women, and there may be some errors. If you are thinking of changing a Beloved tossup into a Toni Morrison tossup because I made this forum post counting names of real women, just don't.

The collegiate part of this forum has a subforum on women in quizbowl that deals more with the experiences of women at quizbowl tournaments. It's a good subforum, and I'll let the mods decide whether this thread belongs there.

I did not look at the ATHENA Set, though I applaud that work.

Set A:
Name a man tossups: 78
Name a woman tossups: 4 (4.9%)
Name a man bonus parts: 200
Name a woman bonus parts: 10 (4.8%)
Current Events: Brazil/Lula/Rousseff, 2015 Paris attacks/Hollande/Merkel, Myanmar/Aung San Suu Kyi/Rohingyas
Fine Arts: Man, Controller of the Universe/Rivera/Kahlo, Braque/Picasso/Les Demoiselles d’Avignon
History: Blair Mountain/Homestead Strike/Triangle Shirtwaist, Rosenbergs/Manhattan Project/Oppenheimer, Enlightenment/Catherine the Great/Orlov, Roe v. Wade
Literature: Toni Morrison, Rodolphe Boulanger/Madame Bovary/Flaubert, Rosa del Valle/House of the Spirits/Chile, Northanger Abbey/Pride and Prejudice/Sense and Sensibility, Petrarch/Laura/Ventoux, Hope is the Thing with Feathers/I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died/Emily Dickinson, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Claudius/Ophelia/Yorick, Eyes of God/Handmaid’s Tale/Atwood, To Kill a Mockingbird, Kate Chopin, Wuthering Heights, Nadine Gordimer, Jude the Obscure/Hardy/Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Tale of Genji/Shikibu/Vanished into the Clouds, Brave New World/Linda/Huxley, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Cry the Beloved Country/Gertrude/Paton, Taming of the Shrew/Merry Wives of Windsor/Coriolanus, Death Comes for the Archbishop/Oh Pioneers/Cather, Euripides/Medea/Bacchae, Winesburg Ohio/Kate Swift/Sherwood Anderson, Pale Fire/Lolita/Nabokov
Pop Culture: Taylor Swift, Dory, tuna/Calvin and Hobbes/Rosalyn, Kramer/Seinfeld/Susan Ross, Parks and Recreation
RMP: bad faith/Sartre/Simone de Beauvoir, Poseidon/Medusa/Chrysaor, Odin/Yggdrasil/Norns, Atalanta, Divali/Holi/Navaratri, Amaterasu/Izanagi/Japan, Green Knight/Gawain/Morgan le Fay, Persephone/Castor and Pollux/Leda, Ragnarok/Fenrir/Lif and Lifthrasir, Dido/Aeneas/Anchises, Artemis, Helios/Thrinacia/Scylla and Charybdis, Vanir/Njord/Freyja
Science: nondisjunction/Down’s syndrome/Turner syndrome, DDT/bald eagle/biomagnification (clues from Rachel Carson)


Set B:
Name a man tossups: 70
Name a woman tossups: 10 (12.5%)
Name a man bonus parts: 179
Name a woman bonus parts: 23 (11.4%)
Current Events: Theresa May, Ivanka Trump, Park Geun-hye/Sewol ferry sinking/Ban Ki-moon, One child policy/Antinatalism/Infanticide, The Gambia/Yahya Jammeh/female genital mutilation
Fine Arts: Georgia O’Keeffe, ballet/Balanchine/Stravinsky (clued Martha Graham), Romeo and Juliet/Prokofiev/Tchaikovsky, Little Dance of 14 Years/Degas/Impressionism, flamenco/Chabrier/Carmen, Neoclassicism/Angelica Kauffman/Oath of the Horatii, Turandot, Frida Kahlo/Dorothy Hale/Mexico, The Bartered Bride/Smetana/Moldau, Roy Lichtenstein/Yayoi Kusama/pointillism, Venus of Urbino/Titian/Praxiteles, Statue of Liberty/Bartholdi/Libertas
History: Liliuokalani/Dole/McKinley, Elizabeth II/Sweden/Beatrix, pardon/Gerald Ford/Patty Hearst, York/Margaret of Anjou/Bosworth Field, Hammurabi/eye for an eye/divorce, Aztec/Cortes/Malinche
Literature: Jane Austen, Rape of the Lock/Pope/Dryden, And Then There Were None/Christie/Anthony Marston, Anna Karenina/hit by train/Serbia, The Color Purple, Esmerelda/Hugo/Toilers of the Sea, Rand/objectivism/Robert Nozick, Willa Cather, Bronte, Lolita, Byron/She Walks in Beauty/Ada Lovelace, Bell Jar/Plath/avocados, To the Lighthouse, Phillis Wheatley, Harper Lee, Scheherezade/Ali Baba/Morgiana, Handmaid’s Tale, Lady Chatterley’s Lover/DH Lawrence/playwright, sonnet/EB Browning/How Do I Love Thee, Clarissa/Richardson/Pamela, Uncle Tom’s Cabin/Beloved/Confessions of Nat Turner, Mysteries of Udolpho/Ann Radcliffe/Pyrenees, Zola/J’Accuse/Therese Raquin, Ethan Frome/Edith Wharton/Mrs. Hale, The Faerie Queene/Spenser/lion, The Awakening
Pop Culture: Al Pacino/Godfather/Diane Keaton, Beach Boys/California Sound/Surfer Girl, Chance the Rapper/Life of Pablo/Sia, Kellyanne Conway/Conway’s Game of Life/Will Conway
RMP: Nut/Hathor/Bastet, Grendel’s mother/Beowulf/Wiglaf, voodoo/Hounfour/Mambo, Hannah Arendt, Isis, Persephone/pomegranate/Pirithous, blood sacrifice/menstruation/Noah, Wicca/Gardner/Horned God
Science: pregnancy test/Chorionic Villus Sampling/Apgar, environmentalism/Rachel Carson/deep ecology
Social Science: Margaret Mead, feminism/Beauvoir/Second Sex, Broken Windows/Giuliani/abortion


Unlike last time, I noticed a big difference between the sets I looked at. One set had more questions asking to name a woman and fewer questions asking to name a man than the other.

I am interested if anyone has ideas on how many questions there should be about women. (Any guideline would not use my percentages, since it would count books by women as being about women and books by men as being about men.) That could be a guideline writers use when writing sets or a guideline that comes from elsewhere in academia about how much women should be included in academic content.

I am also interested if people notice differences in the amount of female content in sets and if that impacts their experience of a tournament. Is there a sense that this is something quizbowl overall does well or does poorly?
David Reinstein
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Re: Women in Sets

Postby Cheynem » Sun Jan 21, 2018 11:27 pm

Some of this is probably a bias of sorts on the writers/editors part.

Some of this is an academic bias, in which, say, some female writers/artists what have you aren't taught or studied enough as they should, so they are "less famous."

Some of this is the world's bias--as Virginia Woolf pointed out, it was a lot harder to be a female author in Shakespeare's day, so there isn't the female equivalent playwright to Shakespeare, Marlowe, Jonson, etc.

This is not intended to be glib, but simply point out that there are a lot of issues to focus on when we think about this question.
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Re: Women in Sets

Postby alexdz » Mon Jan 22, 2018 5:37 am

Mike is absolutely right. Insofar as quizbowl is a game about naming other things, any bias in what other things have common/famous names will invariably show up here as well. This is not to say that there's nothing we can do about it, because we have the luxury of being able to talk about things that aren't "famous enough" to be answers on their own.

For example, even questions with men as their answers can refer to the women in their life as clues. Questions on books by men can be themed around female characters. Male artists are well known for painting many female subjects, and many social scientists/religious scholars/philosophers have studied gender. Any or all of these can and should be possible clues.
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Re: Women in Sets

Postby Dominator » Mon Jan 22, 2018 10:57 am

I think Mike's and Alex's posts give valid reasons to expect that the man-question-to-woman-question ratio is higher than 1:1, but I don't think they explain the 8:1 or 20:1 ratios seen in these sets.

Take a look, for example, at the disparity between the history answer lines and literature answer lines in the second set David mentioned. I think that indicates that the history editor may not be exploring the full depth and breadth of history. Certainly any proponent of Great Man History or military history will have a higher man-to-woman question quotient, but I would (and have, in specific cases) encourage that history editor to broaden horizons. Social history offers a great new perspective for greater involvement, although I think there are other avenues as well.
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