Oscar acceptance speeches reveal gender differences

An analysis of 200 speeches in the major categories unearthed some interesting findings, such as: More women clutch the Oscar statuette and use the word “heart” in their speeches compared with men.

Just in time for this year’s Oscars comes Thank the Academy, an interactive site based on analysis of more than 200 Oscar speeches beginning in 1953 in the major categories.

Rebecca Rolfe, a master’s candidate in digital media, looked at the speeches to find verbal and physical expressions of gratitude, and came up with lots of data you can use as a spectator—or to craft your own acceptance speech.

She watched videos of the speeches and tabulated gender differences. Here are some things she discovered:

  • The average speech length is getting longer. Starting at less than a minute in the 1960s, it’s now closer to two minutes. In the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, women’s acceptance speeches were quite a bit shorter than those of male actors. Today, women and men deliver acceptances of just under two minutes, with only one second’s difference on average.
  • Forty-seven percent of the women winning Oscars clutch the statuette, compared with just 21 percent of the men. Twenty-six percent of the men hold it over their heads victoriously, while just 12 percent of women do.
  • Acceptance speeches with notes are longer—just over two minutes—than the extemporaneous ones, which average about one minute, 23 seconds.
  • More women say thanks “so much,” at 33 percent, compared to just 13 percent of the men who win Oscars.

This analysis solves a question I’ve long had: The conductor cuts in with music at one minute, 30 seconds, to prompt the long-winded winners to wind up. But those interrupted by music generally clock in at two minutes, 12 seconds, by the time they’re done.

Read more about the research, with an interview with Rolfe, in this Time article. What do you think about this research?

Denise Graveline is the president of don’t get caught, a communications consultancy. She also writes The Eloquent Woman blog, where a version of this article originally ran. (Image via, via & via)


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