Happenings on the Hill

Facebook data and gender gaps

It’s an age-old question: Are differences between what men and women like decided by nature or nurture?

A new study from SMU (Southern Methodist University) and UC3M (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid) in Spain took Facebook data and reached some surprising conclusions.

“By peering into the lives of billions of people and unobtrusively observing their behavior, Facebook has unintentionally created the world’s largest database on interests and preferences,” said SMU’s Klaus Desmet. He’s the Ruth and Kenneth Altshuler Centennial Interdisciplinary Professor of Economics at SMU and a co-author of the study.

So, what did the social media data show?

“We uncovered a fascinating result: For gender-related interests, such as soccer or children, men and women are more different in gender-equal societies,” Desmet said. “However, for non-gender-related interests, such as travel, the opposite is true: Men and women are more alike in more gender-equal countries.”

On the other hand, those results align well with two seemingly competing theories.

“For gender-related preferences, which are more likely to be determined by innate factors, women and men are more different in gender-equal societies. This is consistent with evolutionary psychology,” he said. “For non-gender related preferences, which are more likely to be socially constructed, women and men are more similar in gender-equal societies. This is consistent with social role theory.”

Make him a Mustang

Cenergistic CEO William Spears has given SMU the largest donation by a non-alumnus in the university’s more-than-100-year history.

University leaders didn’t disclose the gift amount but said it would help establish the William S. Spears Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership in the Cox School of Business and the Spears Accelerator.

The accelerator will offer support services and funding opportunities for the conception, creation, and development of new businesses, services, and products.

A masterpiece in residence

Check out Juan Sánchez Cotán’s Still Life with Quince, Cabbage, Melon, and Cucumber (c. 1602) while it’s on loan from the San Diego Museum of Art for viewing at the Meadows Museum through June 26.

It came to the SMU as part of Masterpieces in Residence, a new series launched in March of individual installations of a single work of Spanish art on loan from a U.S. museum.

Juan Sánchez Cotán’s Still Life with Quince, Cabbage, Melon, and Cucumber,  considered one of the first masterpieces of still-life painting, set a high precedent for the Spanish still-life painting of the later Baroque period.

New York-bound

Marc P. Christensen, dean of SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering and Bobby B. Lyle Professor of Engineering Innovation, on July 1, will become the 17th president of Clarkson University, a private research institution with more than 4,600 students based in Potsdam, New York.

He joined the SMU faculty in 2002 and has led the Lyle School for the past nine years.

SAT, ACT scores not required

SMU will remain test-optional for first-year undergraduate applicants seeking admission and scholarships for the fall 2023 and spring 2024 terms.

“Since implementing a temporary test-optional policy in 2020, the admission committee continues to attract high-achieving students who bring great talent to our campus,” said Wes Waggoner, SMU associate vice president for Enrollment Management.

Share this article...
Email this to someone
Share on Facebook
Tweet about this on Twitter
Share on LinkedIn

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.