Friday, September 9, 2011

Rate of FemINism amongst LinkedIn members?

Have you recently joined LinkedIn or edited your profile lately? Below the lines for your first and last names, there is a line for "Former/Maiden Name:".
The evidence

The obvious question is, "How and when did it come to be there?".

The question The interesting meta-question, Ash, ish "Why has this so very 19th century concept persisted well into the 21st century, and what does it tell us about the LinkedIn membership?"

The answer Here's (Thank you Megrah!)  my answer: It is because the rate of femINism amongst LinkedIN members is very low, in fact about two per million or one in 500,000 in the best case scenario.

My assumptions:
1) Had they seen "Former/Maiden Name" any feminist worth their (Sorry, Megrah!) salt would object to that language ...
2) ... and have taken action --the difference between feminism and namby-pamby "humanism" is action-- for example by bringing it to the attention of LinkedIn...
3) ...and LinkedIn would have removed the sexist language.
(As of 9 September 2011, that line was still there on the "edit profile" page.)
4) Every former or current LinkedIn member has seen that line at least once, during registration.

Worst case analysis: There are currently upwards of 120 million LinkedIn members. Only one "took action" - walking a 100' and chatting. So in the worst case analysis, the rate of femINism is 1 in 120 million.

But wait, LinkedIn hasn't always had a 120 million members! And, how long did it take that one person (myself) to act?

That calls for a more sophisticated analysis, taking into account the duration of exposure of the sexist line to members and the time it took me from when I could have first noticed it till I acted.

Let's do the math, Barbie! Take LinkedIn's membership numbers: 4.5K in June 2003 increasing to 120M in August 2011. Assume, 5) exponential growth and calculate the time-constant (in base-10 it is about 1/2 per year). Then simply integrate the membership over time and you get about 1million man-years! Ohh ... OK ... people-years.

I've been a member of LinkedIn for about 2 years, and it took me that long to notice and take (minor) action - so that is 2 people-years in the numerator. And there you have it:

Rate of FemINism amongst LinkedIn membership is at most 1 in 500,000!  

One possible quibble and why it beautifully doesn't matter because of exponential growth: What if that line was only introduced later, not at the very beginning but say when membership was already 10 times as large as at the beginning? Wouldn't that mean that the rate of feminism is actually much better, 2 per 100,000 (one 10th of million) , which is really 1 out 50,000? That doesn't look too bad! Is the analysis so sensitive to assumptions about initial conditions?

Well no. It takes LinkedIn only 2 years to increase its membership by a factor of 10. Over those early 2 years with exponentially less members, the loss in member exposure turns out to be only 135,000 people-years. So even with that ameliorative assumption, we would get the rate of femINism to be 2 per (1million - 135,000) , or about 1 per 430,000 as opposed to 1 per 500,000. Does that really make you feel better?

Full Disclosure: I am an intern at LinkedIn (and proud of it) and a femINist (and proud of it).

1 comment:

  1. I have news from Megrah that they have submitted a ticket to change it to "Former/Alternate Names"