Quantified Feminism and the Bechdel Test

Project Summary

Selen Berkman (ECE, CompSci), Sammy Garland (Math), and Aaron VanSteinberg (CompSci, English) spent ten weeks undertaking a data-driven analysis of the representation of women in film and in the film industry, with special attention to a metric called the Bechdel Test. They worked with data from a number of sources, including fivethirtyeight.com and the-numbers.com.

Themes and Categories
Year
2017
Contact
Paul Bendich
Mathematics
bendich@math.duke.edu

Project Results: The team showed that movies which pass the Bechdel test, which requires that a movie have at least two female named characters who talk to each other about something other than a man, have a statistically significant higher return on investment when compared to films that do not.

They also demonstrated a clear positive relationship between the number of women working on the production of a film and the percentage of female dialogue. Finally, the team expanded the binary Bechdel test into a continuous score called the Bechdel score, and they demonstrated a clear positive correlation between this score and the percentage of overall film dialogue spoken by female characters. 

Click here for the Executive Summary

Faculty Lead & Project Manager: Stefan Waldschmidt

Room 351: Sharing Project Space and Coding

"I gained valuable program management experience. Given that after the program was over I got hired as a consultant manager at CollegeVine, I'd say it paid off." — Stefan Waldschmidt, Faculty Lead, Project Manager and PhD Candidate, English at Duke University

Related People

Related Videos

Related Projects

In this two-day, virtual data expedition project, students were introduced to the APIM in the context of stress proliferation, linked lives, the spousal relationship, and mental and physical health outcomes.

Stress proliferation is a concept within the stress process paradigm that explains how one person’s stressors can influence others (Thoits 2010). Combining this with the life course principle of linked lives explains that because people are embedded in social networks, stress not only can impact the individual but can also proliferate to people close to them (Elder Jr, Shanahan and Jennings 2015). For example, one spouse’s chronic health condition may lead to stress-provoking strain in the marital relationship, eventually spilling over to affect the other spouse’s mental health. Additionally, because partners share an environment, experiences, and resources (e.g., money and information), as well as exert social control over each other, they can monitor and influence each other’s health and health behaviors. This often leads to health concordance within couples; in other words, because individuals within the couple influence each other’s health and well-being, their health tends to become more similar or more alike (Kiecolt-Glaser and Wilson 2017, Polenick, Renn and Birditt 2018). Thus, a spouse’s current health condition may influence their partner’s future health and spouses may contemporaneously exhibit similar health conditions or behaviors.

However, how spouses influence each other may be patterned by the gender of the spouse with the health condition or exhibiting the health behaviors. Recent evidence suggests that a wife’s health condition may have little influence on her husband’s future health conditions, but that a husband’s health condition will most likely influence his wife’s future health (Kiecolt-Glaser and Wilson 2017).

Alexa Goble (Finance) joined Econ majors Chavez Cheong and Eli Levine in a ten-week exploration of mortgage enforcement actions related to the financial crisis from earlier in this century. Using NLP techniques on mortgage data from Ohio and Massachusetts, the team validated a new experimental approach to understanding the dynamics between state regulatory agencies, mortgage lenders, brokers, and loan originators. This project was a continuation of two previous Data+ projects:

https://bigdata.duke.edu/projects/american-predatory-lending-global-financial-crisis

https://bigdata.duke.edu/projects/american-predatory-lending-and-global-financial-crisis-year-2

 

View the team's project poster here

Watch the team's final presentation on Zoom:

 

Project Lead: Lee Reiners

Project Manager: Malcolm Smith Fraser

Stats/Sociology major Mitchelle Mojekwu joined Neuroscience majors Kassie Hamilton and Zineb Jaidi in a ten-week exploration of data relevant to an upcoming public school zone redistricting in Durham County. Using information acquired from the General Social Survey and the US Census, the team applied modern mathematical and statistical methods for generating proposed redistricting plans, with the aim of providing decision-makers with information they can use to produce school districts that are equitable and reflective of the Durham County student population.

View the team's project poster here

Watch the team's final presentation on Zoom:

 

Faculty Lead: Greg Herschlag

Project Manager: Bernard Coles