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Friday, May 30, 2014

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Women Killing It On Jeopardy! For the First Time Ever

From Vulture:

On April 8, an environmental compliance manager from Baltimore named Derrick Shivar hauled in $22,800 on Jeopardy! His triumph would be otherwise unremarkable in the annals of the storied game show except for this: That was was the last time a man won a match on the show. Since then, women have been on an unprecedented run on a program that has long been a target for complaints from feminists and other critics wondering why, for three decades now, the vast majority of players and winners have been male.

Whence this injustice? We've known for a second that women bet less than men on the show; they also make up a smaller percentage of the contestants. A male blogger quoted in this piece suggests that "we're starting to see the results of a generation of women being told that being smart is cool.” Being told! That's one way to frame the idea. Here's one more way one more man phrased one more thing:

Keith Williams, the 2003 Jeopardy! College Tournament champion whose daily video blog dissects the math behind each player’s Final Jeopardy wagering, agreed with Collins that there’s long been an arrogance about what is considered worthy of the program. “In the past, they were a lot more focused on what we call ‘hard knowledge’ and historical facts, dates, who wrote what book, and so on,” Williams said. “Now you’ll see entire categories devoted to Taylor Swift or celebrity reality shows. I wouldn’t say that women are necessarily better in those categories, but that is a consideration.”

"I wouldn't say that women are necessarily better at knowing DUMB SHIT," said Williams, in his brain, "BUT."

Jass, who teaches women’s studies at Adrian College in Adrian, Michigan, said the show’s writing staff, dominated by men, also allow an “androcentric” perspective to seep into the show material. “You never see a category called ‘Male Artists,’ but you do see ‘Female Artists’ or just ‘Artists,’ which may have some women as answers,” she said.

[Vulture]

10 Comments / Post A Comment

Petrichoria

I have a Jeopardy audition tomorrow.

I have in no way prepared for this at all. Today, instead, I am writing a paper on subversive children's books.

I HAVE AN AUDITION FOR JEOPARDY TOMORROW! (Anyone else going to be at a Georgetown hotel at 11:30?)

Clare

@Petrichoria CRUSH IT!! I auditioned a few years ago and it was one of the most fun but nervewracking things I've ever done. When I played the mock game, I was psyched that the contestant coordinators asked me about the "fun fact" I wanted them to ask about--how my favorite song to do at karaoke is 99 Problems.

stonefruit

@Petrichoria Knock 'em dead! I'm like vicariously excited for you.

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

@Petrichoria You're living my dream. Have a great time. Kick ass.

coolallison

Oh man, I am kind of in love with Julia right now.

stonefruit

"idea: don't quote men"

I'M IN.

Lily Rowan

Julia is THE BEST.

2534747084@twitter

just as Alexander responded I'm blown away that a student can get paid $8325 in four weeks on the computer . you could try this out
..... w­w­­w­.­b­a­y­9­1­.­C­ℴ­M

Luckier

So "sports" is a serious, non-frivolous subject? Yes, I know some women like sports fine, but most do not have the conditioned-from-childhood encyclopedic knowledge of baseball stats. Throw a "fashion history" or "70s TV" column at me and I'll clean your clock, Jeopardy nerd. (I auditioned for Jeopardy in 1998 and made it all the way through to the last round before they fly you to LA for whatever they do there before taping, but I would fail a sports round.)

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

I hate the way it was phrased, but the variety of categories might have something to do with it. I'm too young to remember Jeopardy from two decades ago, but I feel like the categories used to be more specific. Now, as we've seen from Ken Jennings, success on Jeopardy is related more to having a small-to-fair amount of knowledge about a lot of topics, rather than having a really in-depth knowledge of anything specific. (The categories might be less centric on specific periods in history, or American-centric, etc.) This, to me, opens up a wider range of potential contestants, both male and female, and thus probably increases the number of female contestants who make it through audition rounds. Anyone older than me: have you noticed a shift in the careers of Jeopardy contestants? Are we seeing more people than we used to who have jobs outside of teaching, academia, and the like?

Other theories: changes in staffing (especially with writers and whoever casts the show) or they're intentionally casting more women in an attempt at diversity.

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