Study of Facebook Data Examines Worldwide Gender Differences in Preferences

Research by scholars at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and Universidad Carlos III de Madrid in Spain examined how the difference in preferences between men and women changes with a country’s degree of gender equality.

The research team conducted an analysis of male and female Facebook users that were interested in 45,397 different topics for all countries it serves. Interests were classified as “gender-related” if found to be more common among one gender in most of the world. For example, men tended to be more interested in cars and video games. Women were more interested in cuisine, fashion, and parenting. Researchers classified topics as non-gender-related if they were liked equally by both genders or if they were more popular among men in some countries, but more well-liked among women in others.

Klaus Desmet, the Ruth and Kenneth Altshuler Centennial Interdisciplinary Professor of Economics at Southern Methodist University and a co-author of the study, reports that “we uncovered a fascinating result: for gender-related interests, such as soccer or children, men and women are more different in gender-equal societies. However, for non-gender-related interests, such as travel, the opposite is true: men and women are more alike in more gender-equal countries.”

Professor Desmet added that “for gender-related preferences, which are more likely to be determined by innate factors, women and men are more different in gender-equal societies. For non-gender-related preferences, which are more likely to be socially constructed, women and men are more similar in gender-equal societies.

The study, “The Gender Gap in Preferences: Evidence from 45,397 Facebook Interests,” was published by the National Bureau of Economic Research. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Gender GapResearch/Study


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