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‘Guardian’ study confirms what we all suspected: Women writers receive most abusive comments

Black male writers were also harassed.


Catherine Scott


Posted on Apr 12, 2016   Updated on May 26, 2021, 11:07 pm CDT

study of 70 million Guardian articles offers the first quantitative evidence for what female journalists have long assumed: that articles written by women attract more abuse than those written by men, regardless of what the article is about.

Out of the comments studied by The Guardian, the website has blocked 1.4 million comments that violate its community standards. These were mostly comments that contained offensive language and personal attacks, or deliberate derailing. (It did not include spam, which is deleted but not blocked.)

Of the 10 regular writers for the newspaper who received the most abuse, eight were female, and the remaining two were black men. Two of the women and one of the male writers were gay, and of the eight women, one was Muslim and one Jewish. The ten regular writers who received the least abuse were all male.

The study found that “articles written by women got more blocked comments across almost all sections.” It also found that the more a section was dominated by male writers—such as in the Sport and Technology sections—the higher the number of blocked comments the women who wrote for those sections received. 

However, the Fashion section, dominated by women writers, was one of the few sections where male writers received a higher number of blocked comments.

The study also found that “articles about feminism attracted very high levels of blocked comments.” And so did rape.

People of ethnic and religious minorities and LGBT writers also appeared to experience “a disproportionate amount of abuse.” People took to Twitter today to express their disappointment over the study’s findings.

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*First Published: Apr 12, 2016, 2:02 pm CDT