In our continuing exploration of the words we use to talk about the dead, Andrew Higgins, Jacob Levernier, and I have created an “omnibus” map of the traits and other values associated with men and women across the country. Our sample draws from Eugene, Flint, Wasilla, and Amherst. (Eventually, we will be adding lots of other towns… it’s hard work reading hundreds of obits!) As usual, size represents interconnections, edge width represents co-occurrences, and centrality represents, well, centrality. In addition, color in this map represents gender: the bluer the term, the more its associated with men; the redder the term, the more it’s associated with women. Here it is:
If you zoom in, you’ll see a number of unsurprising gender-differences. For example, men are much more likely to be described as veterans, while women are much more likely to be described as cooks. We don’t need to mine obituaries to realize that World War II happened and that woman still disproportionately work as homemakers. But there are also some surprising differences, given the prevalence of traditional gender roles in American society. Women are more likely to be described as courageous. Men are more likely to be described as helpful. Women are more likely to be described as independent and spirited. Men are more likely to be described as understanding and affectionate. There are also some surprising lacks of difference. Most notably, men and women are equally associated with family, with volunteering, with having a sense of humor, and with leadership.
Here’s another version of the same map, with the terms replaced by nodes of various sizes: