I decided to run some dialogue from Jane Austen’s heroes through it. The first one I tried was Mr. Darcy and he checked out as male. Whew! Next I tried Edward Ferrars and Edmund Bertram. Both tested out female–not so surprising as they are some of Austen’s more “beta” heroes. But then Mr. Knightley checked out as a girl. And the highest female score of all was from Captain Wentworth, even though the sample dialogue I used was all about the ships he’d commanded. I’d always considered him Austen’s most macho hero!
Looking at Gender Genie’s key words, I’m pretty convinced that historical changes in speech patterns explain these results. Though perhaps Gender Genie did detect Jane Austen as the puppeteer behind some of her heroes?
This was a fun experiment. Maybe next week I’ll try some dialogue from other authors, male and female, historical and contemporary. Who knows, I may even test out my current hero’s dialogue. But maybe not–wouldn’t it be dreadful to learn that my Waterloo veteran turned balloonist sounds like a girl?!