Wednesday, May 18, 2011

XKCD Gendered Comics

Randall Munroe is an awesome ally. There are lots of gendered comic strips he posts that make me warm and fuzzy inside. I am going to share a couple with you today.

I actually want to surface some of the comments written on GeekFeminism:

I wonder if Randall reads Geek Feminism–maybe it just shows up on his Google Alerts when someone ’round here mentions him. There was a post a while ago praising an XKCD strip for passing Bechdel, and to me it seems like ever since then, Randall’s been making a concerted effort to include more women in his strips.
- Annalee

Of course, not that many pass the Bechdel test per say:
Skud points out strip 752, and counts back 400 strips to the previous Bechdel-passer (though there’s discussion in the comments about whether or not another intervening strip counted).
In the 144 strips since then, I count eight solid Bechdel passes (1.798 2. 813 3.816 4. 829 5. 865 6.872 7. 877 8. 896) and three Bechdel-maybes (1. 819: “thanks for the great night” momma joke, 2. 846: woman speaking to (but not with) Ke$ha about dentistry, and 3. 867 , in which one woman responds to another woman’s presentation.
- Annalee

But you know what? I don't care so much about that. Yes, having more than one (nerdy) female in a comic strip is great... but tons of Munroe's strips *actually have any*. And that makes me so happy.

I took the liberty of collecting some data on xkcd characters over the last 100 comics (#800-900). Below is a visualization of my findings. Note: for the purposes of this data characters with traditionally-female hair styles are presumed female. Those with no hair or traditionally male hairstyles are designated male.

For reference, women comprise 29% of the workforce working in computer or information science according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2006.

You'll note that not every strip contains human characters, meaning that fewer than 100 comics are represented in the following chart:

Bonus points: sometimes the girls are actually the nerdiest characters in the strip! (It wouldn't be right for them to be all the time, just like it wouldn't be right if men were the nerdiest characters all the time.)  
Better bonus points:This isn't the only time he talks about feminism and gender discrimination in STEM fields.

1 comment:

  1. It's funny, I've been checking a lot of posts about xkcd and the Bechdel test and no one seems to remember one of the earliest strips in the comic (also, one of my favourites) that passed the Bechdel test with flying colors!