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Bias on nets/MUDs

Wed Mar 17 20:23:53 EST 1993

Just a comment on the male "predominance" on MUDs.  I was a MUD addict one
summer (yes, I confess, it was wrong, but I did it) with two noms-de-MUD --
Kate (my own) and SEDNA (ending in a vowel probably obviously female and
do YOU recognize the mythological derivation??). One could not really
tell the "true" gender of the players if masquerading, but my impression
was much closer to 60/40 male/female than the extreme ratio cited in an
earlier posting -- and (I suspect) more females than were really represented
in the computer science program at Temple University, the MUDpuddle that I
usually frequented. One could continue to speculate about the relative
predominance of males in computer science, I suppose, but in my perigrinations
about the nets in biology, library&information science, cybernetics & the like
it varies a great deal. If one were REALLY interested, one could collect
the mailing lists from LISTSERVs and tally the apparent male, female, and
indeterminant names (don't confuse ALL my friends named Sydney & Leslie) and
come up with some insights.

The received wisdom that I pass on to my pre-sophomores (PC lingo) is that
e-mail has the *potential* to reduce gender, age, ethnicity, disability and
other non-input-related biases. There are other biases introduced -- the
computer haves & have-nots (at some level including having a computer AND
modem in your dorm room) for example, and those with sufficient free time
to learn to do this stuff and see sufficient value in it to continue. The
ability to "lurk" and learn the "rules of the game" is enhanced in an e-mail
environment compared with "real life."

Kate McCain                           "die Gedankenexperimente sind frei!!"
mccainkw at duvm.ocs.drexel.edu

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