Is Matilda Playing it Safe?

Gender in Computational Text Analysis Methods




Computational Text Analyses Methods, Gender, Expert Survey


Numerous studies document the gender gap in published articles in political science journals, observing systematic imbalances in the sub- mission pool which result in a distorted publication pattern. In this study we test some pathways that may explain the distorted submission pool: a) playing it safe due to the gender perception gap, and b) as a consequence of the Matilda effect setting a higher bar for methodological knowledge, focusing on papers using Computational Text Analysis methods. Papers using Computational Text Analysis Methods are more likely to be published in journals with a ‘masculinized’ perception gap. When women are aiming for these journals, they might ‘play it safe’ by conducting more validation checks than their male colleagues. More- over, embracing the Matilda effect – i.e. internalizing the systematic under-recognition of female scientists and mis-attribution of, especially methodological skills, to men – women scholars are more likely to indicate that a) there are important training needs in more areas; and b) they themselves need (further) training in computational methods and use these reasons not to publish papers employing these methods. We test these claims using a) a unique content analysis of research articles published in the top 20 journals in communication science, political science, sociology and psychology between 2016 and 2020, identifying all 854 articles that involved some form of quantitative textual analysis; and b) a pre-registered expert survey of all authors of quantitative text analytic research identified via said content analysis, which inquired about researchers’ considerations and concerns in the application of computational text analytic strategies

Author Biography

Mariken van der Velden, Vrije University Amsterdam

I am an Associate Professor of Political Communication in the Department of Communication Science at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

My research interest comprise the areas of political communication, political behavior, and computational social science. I am motivated by key societal challenges that face democracies today, such as the crisis of representative democracy and increasing political fragmentation. Specifically, I apply advanced computational approaches to study the communication and rhetoric of politicians, and how this affects political decision making and its electoral consequences in multi-party systems. In my current work, I examine the legitimacy of political decision-making. In one project, I study the electoral ramifications of (un)compromising politicians. This research project is funded through a Innovation Grant (VENI) by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). In another project, I look at the perceived legitimacy of goverment communication, which is funded through a National Science Agenda Grant by NWO. Moreover, as part of the OPTED H2020 consortium funded by the European Research Council, I work on methods to compare textual data in multilangual settings.




How to Cite

van der Velden, M., & Dolinsky, A. O. (2024). Is Matilda Playing it Safe? : Gender in Computational Text Analysis Methods. Computational Communication Research, 6(1).