A Bechdel Test for #MLA16: Gendered Acts of Care on Academic Twitter
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This essay tracks gendered behaviors on academic Twitter during the Modern Language Association conference in January 2016. Drawing on Lauren Klein’s theory of carework and the Bechdel test for gender equality in filmmaking, I compare the way male and female social media users respond to presentations in the Twitter feed associated with three particular panels. Using Storifies from these panels, I classify tweets according to the gender identities of those mentioned in the tweet and those creating the tweets, as well as by the rhetorical function of each tweet. The resulting spreadsheet, figures, and tables are an example of “small data” at work as I hypothesize significant trends in the way women perform carework during conferences through their social media usage.
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