A new report that analyzed the amount of male and female speech time in popular HBO series Game of Thrones found that female characters speak about three times less on average than male characters, as reported by the BBC.
Researchers at Swedish start-up Ceretai used machine learning to analyze male and female speech patterns in the television show. The machine uses an algorithm that identifies speaking time lengths in seconds and percentages per gender, with an accuracy of about 85 percent.
Lisa Hamberg, the co-founder of Ceretai, decided to analyze speech patterns in the show to send a message about how women are portrayed in the media and how men and women are far from being equally represented.
“We are not doing this to make people stop watching, but to make them aware of the fact that it’s an unfair representation of the world.”
While researchers estimated that they would see female characters take up 30 percent of speaking time throughout the series, which is the average given to women on screen, the data found that it was much less. In fact, in Season 1, female character speech amounted for just 25 percent of total speech time. By Season 7, it had risen slightly to about a third.
Although the final season is known for featuring many strong female roles at the forefront of the plot, it ended up coming in among the worst for female speaking time with 22 percent.
— Ceretai (@Ceretai1) May 22, 2019
Season 2 saw females speak 29 percent of the time, in Season 3 it was 28 percent, Season 4 saw 27 percent, Season 5 and 6 were at 26 percent, and Season 7 at 31 percent.
In the fifth episode of Season 4, leading female characters including Cersei Lannister and Daenerys Targaryen, brought the male vs female speech time to about half and half, making it the episode with the most equal representation.
One of the worst episodes for speech equality was Episode 7 of Season 1, in which female characters spoke just one-sixth of the total time.
Dr. Stephanie Genz, a media studies lecturer at Nottingham Trent University, explained the unbalance between female and male speech despite the fact that the series features many key female characters.
“You’ve got this misperception that because women are very visible, their bodies are very visible, that somehow equates to a meaningful statement, which doesn’t necessarily have to be the case.”
The professor added that the women tend to speak with their bodies, taking the audience’s attention away from how little they actually speak.
“It’s just confirming what we know in society anyway – that women’s voices are underrepresented.”