The Gender and Equity Scholarship series is co-ordinated by the University of Waterloo Faculty Association Status of Women and Equity Committee and intends to assist not only with the promotion of gender and equity research currently being conducted at the University of Waterloo, but also with the creation of networking opportunities for equity minded faculty on campus.
Monday, December 7, 2015 — 11:30 AM EST
Dan Brown (School of Computer Science) and Cecilia Cotton (Statistics and Actuarial Science)
December 7, 2015
A recent paper on sexist behaviour in video games was widely reported in the media as showing that men who play poorly are more obnoxious to female players, though that was not the major finding of the actual paper. Instead, the paper claimed to show that high-skilled male players are more supportive to female teammates than they are to male teammates. The data were comments made during recorded first-person shooter games. Using an evolutionary psychology lens, the authors suggested that these high-skill males responded positively to their female teammates in manners consistent with finding a mate.
We re-examined the paper, and identified several problems with both data generation and analysis. The statistical model used by the authors did not adequately account for the large variation in the number of positive comments made to a teammate. None of the gender-based major conclusions of the study are statistically significant when analyzed properly. Additionally, there are major concerns about how the data were generated (including ethical concerns around analysis of people’s online behaviour), and about the generalizability of the results of the paper, were they significant in the first place.
We also discuss our work on attempting to get the publishing journal to respond to our critiques, which has so far been largely unsuccessful.
Dan Brown is Associate Professor of Computer Science at the University of Waterloo, where he has been a faculty member since 2000. His primary research interests are in bioinformatics and music information retrieval. He doesn’t play first-person shooters, but does play other video games.
Cecilia Cotton is Associate Professor of Statistics at the University of Waterloo, where she has been a faculty member since 2009. Her primary research interests are biostatistics, causal inference, and longitudinal data.
About the Gender and Equity Scholarship series: