So, here’s what I thought when I first saw all of the frantic coverage of Amy Schneider’s Jeopardy! victory: claimed that it was all a ruse concocted by the New York Times to allow them to use the word “female” in a headline extolling the achievements of a human being with male genitalia. I know! They didn’t say “woman,” but they did say “female,” so I’m not sure what word is still available in the Times’ lexicon to convey the existence of biological truth, regardless of how you feel about gender being a social construct.
When I first saw the headlines, I had no idea that a quiz show could be one of those situations where a person’s gender or sexual orientation could influence the outcome. I was mistaken. Here are some links I found about Jeopardy Ongoing !’s struggle with the fact that, for whatever reason or reasons, men win more frequently than women on the game show:
- “What is sexism, Alex?”: It’s time to close the “Jeopardy!” gender gap. 29th of September, 2013.
- Do Men Bet More Than Women on Jeopardy? Slate conducted an investigation. March 5, 2014.
- Trivial Pursuit Strategies Examining Contestants and Episodes of Trivia Shows Over Time (undated) (Casino.org conducted this study on the differences in betting habits between men and women) What Are the Reasons for Female Jeopardy’s Unprecedented Success! Competitors? Winners? May 29, 2014: Women are suddenly scoring higher than men. Hmmm. The show manages to have a number of female winners all of a sudden, right after a press push about how gender roles are played out.
- Women just don’t seem to be able to win on Jeopardy. April 11, 2016. Oops. It has reappeared.
- After competing in Jeopardy! for 33 seasons, men had amassed roughly twice as much money as women as of February 1, 2017.
- What Caused Claims That ‘Jeopardy!’ Preferred Men Over Women, and Why July 16, 2020.
This preliminary investigation into whether or not there are gender inequalities in game show outcomes has already yielded some intriguing results.
As a result, it is theoretically possible for the selection committee to purposefully assemble a team in order to make it easier for a specific player to win. If you want to build tension with a long winning streak, put your best-auditioned player on the stage with relatively low-scoring players, let the wins pile up, and then bring on other high-scoring players when you’re ready to end the streak in a high-tension match. This will allow you to create a winning streak that lasts longer than would normally be required. Fill the roster in such a way that a player who the public can identify with succeeds (audiences will much prefer the “good guy” to win), if you want to see that happen.
And, as the articles examining the gender-disparity question show, quiz-question authors have control over the types of categories they create and the questions they ask. This is something to keep in mind as you investigate the gender disparity issue. As a result, it is not beyond the realm of possibility to attempt to tilt victory in favor of the types of people who are more likely to have specific types of knowledge. You can tailor a game to people who are interested in science, literature, or anything else you see fit. Even if no dishonesty occurs during the competition, the program can have a significant impact on the types of contestants who are more likely to win.
You can also control how difficult each $ category is, allowing you to create a show with a tendency toward relatively lower or higher total winnings. This can be accomplished, in particular, by varying the level of difficulty of the questions asked about mid-level dollar values. The dynamic management of this over the course of a season and the life of the show allows for the creation of attention-grabbing headlines and emotionally thrilling stakes, both of which drive viewers to continue tuning in. That is pretty standard fare in the entertainment business.
Some events in the entertainment industry, on the other hand, may bring to light some potentially fascinating facts about gender disparities. Concerns raised:
- I’m curious if the average processing speed and reaction times of men and women differ enough to affect game outcomes.
- Is there a significant difference in the average knowledge base of male and female trivia buffs?
- Is it true that men and women approach game strategy differently? (While the differences in tactics may or may not have an effect on the game’s outcome, it is still quite interesting!)
- Are there real psychological differences (such as “competitive” versus “cooperative”) between men and women that influence how they play video games?
- Who makes the decision to audition for game shows and other types of competitions? Does gender influence the socialization process or the innate psychological characteristics that emerge?
- Are the patterns we see caused by differences in IQ distribution between males and females? And, if that’s the case, is it because the distribution of average intelligence differs in any meaningful way that affects real life, or because IQ tests are very similar to game shows?
Which gender, as adults, is more likely to perform well in knowledge-based quizzes, and do sociocultural issues affecting girls’ and boys’ education play a role in this? Is it the fact that it was a quiz that has the most influence on the outcome, or is it the content of the quiz itself?
Of course, there is the question of whether there are any social or even inborn psychological factors that influence the show’s organizers’ actions in a way that may result in gender bias. Does it really matter whether the people who posed the question were male or female, for example?
There are many intriguing questions to be asked about the differences between male and female brains and bodies, as well as how we came to be the way we are. It may seem counterintuitive that men and women perform differently on trivia questions, but first impressions don’t always tell the whole story. Nonetheless, given its long and illustrious history, Critical Jeopardy! According to the findings of studies, there is a gender gap in terms of outcome.
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As a result, referring to Amy Schneider as the “female contender with the highest score” is not only ridiculous, but also a waste of time and effort. Because “female” is a biological word, and Schneider’s body has a biological reality anchored in being male, it is absurd to use the word “female” to describe someone with a male body, regardless of that person’s social habits. Put it down to simple politics if you want, but it would be great to know if we’re going to have no words at all for identifying our sexually dimorphic species’ two sexes. It would be nice to know if we won’t be able to say anything at all. How are you supposed to conduct scientific research when the very words that science uses to differentiate, well, male and female, have been obliterated?
But the double nonsense isn’t a problem with vocabulary; it’s a problem with reality: Schneider can’t be in the direct study group for all of these questions about sex, gender, and quiz show results involving males and females. If we ask a sociological question, it is clear that Schneider does not have a lifetime of experience with the issues that women in our time and place face. If we ask a question about biology, it is clear that Schneider has not spent their entire life studying female physiology.
Schneider and other transgender people, on the other hand, could be quite useful in attempting to dissect how different aspects of being transgender affect the social and biological dynamics observed between men and women. This is because a person who is born into one sex but later adopts the outward social role of the opposite sex has a different social experience than a person who lives his or her life entirely within his or her own sex-based gender identity; similarly, from a medical standpoint, some meaningful findings about how male and female brains change when exposed to various interventions that alter the body’s hormonal functioning may be made.
As a result, Amy Schneider, as a transgender person, may have something insightful to say about the differences in performance between male and female Jeopardy! contestants. To frame Schneider’s accomplishments as a “female” record, on the other hand, raises an important question: “Why do ladies, on average, perform worse on the game show?” They then abruptly change the subject and refuse to delve any further into the question of what aspects of female experience differ from those of men.