Gender Analysis of Serbian Women’s Songs


In our analysis of gender in the Serbian women's songs, we determined that our initial hypothesis was incorrect. We thought that women would be mentioned less frequently than men, and that their description would be more negative.

This was not the case. Women are mentioned more frequently than men by far, with roughly three times the number of "noun" elements (either common nouns, names, or pronouns) having a female attribute than a male one. The number of adjectives used to describe these nouns was similarly disproportionate, with the same roughly three-to-one ratio in favor of women.

The second surprise was how much more positive the female adjectives, on average, were than the male ones. While both men and women do have more positive than negative adjectives, women have more than three positive adjectives for every negative adjective, whereas men come in at slightly less than a two-to-one ratio.

While we don't know the original authorship of the songs, given their providence, we think that this shows that the most popular songs, the ones that survived long enough to be written down, preserved, and even translated into English, were the ones that people survived and enjoyed. Seeing as these are Serbian women's songs, the ones that had a more positive attitude towards women stood the test of time. In contrast to the negative descriptions of women that we expected to find, they are generally positive. However, the adjectives used to give these positive descriptions still focus overwhelmingly on appearance, with "young" and "fair" being prominent. "Sweet" does also appear frequently, but rather than referring to a personality trait, "sweet" when used to describe a person in B/C/S usually means attractive so it's unclear what, exactly, was meant in the original text.... (to be continued)