You might be surprised to discover the words you choose aren’t speaking to the people you think. Would you believe there are tools to help you determine whether your language skews toward male or female? This isn’t about pronoun choices or even obvious gender specific products mentioned. Researches, instead, have determined speech patterns tendencies differ between men and women. Testing gender in writing is now a thing. The accuracy of these tests is about 70%, so, not foolproof, but they’re still fun to play with.
This curiosity could keep you distracted for hours (or it did with me). But there are some useful applications for these tools when creating marketing content for a particular audience. It’s also handy if, say, you’re looking to create an empathetic message rather than an authoritative one.
Testing the tests
I tossed more than a half dozen samples of recent marketing copy into these tools. Surprisingly, almost all ranked high on the masculine scale or categorized me as a weak female. Both analyzers I tested used the curious descriptor “weak female”. The way this sounds out of context isn’t the intent at all. What it means is the writing tested had a slight predominance of words typically used more by women.
Promotional copy written for a client with services targeted specifically toward women was one of the pieces that ranked off the charts masculine for me. The content even promoted products designed exclusively for ladies. Go figure.
I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised that my language tends to be more masculine since, over the decades, I’ve been writing for, and mostly to, men. But I was. Particularly since my style tends toward creating messages that trigger a reader’s emotional responses. This marketing tactic works equally well for both men and women. What changes is the focus ideas.
Since I’m able to assume another’s voice when I write, I would have expected the results to come in fairly consistently along client gender lines. They didn’t. The only piece that logged a strong female voice was written for a male client in an industry that requires deep math and analytical skills. That one’s a mystery to me.
Have fun testing your writing style gender
Marcia Yudkin spotlighted these tools in a recent newsletter. She does a weekly Marketing Minute (https://www.yudkin.com/markmin.htm) that offers delightful, quick and interesting tips. Here’s what she has to say about the topic:
“(R)esearchers in a field called “stylometry” say there really are subtle indicators in English about whether a writer slants male or female. Apart from word choice, these indicators include sentence structure, paragraph length, punctuation choices, use of pronouns, emotional intensity, use of numbers and focus on things (male-ish) or on relationships (female-ish).”
If you want to go have some fun, and maybe even get some insight into how your messages sound from a gender perspective, here are links to two resources:
So how’d you rank? Are you female through and through? A man with a manly voice? Somewhere in between? Perhaps you’re like me, and were surprised to see your gender rarely revealed in your writing? I’d enjoy hearing about your experience in the comments below.