I was at a bar this past weekend with some friends. My buddy notices a cute girl and wants to approach her. This got me thinking- why does it seem like its always the guy that has to make the first move? Taking this one step further – would this apply to the online world as well? Do guys send out more friend requests than girls?
To help me figure this out, I used some sample Facebook data that I downloaded from a Udacity Course called “Data Analysis Using R”. The Course is designed and taught by Facebook employees. For legal reasons, the sample does not contain any sensitive information such as names, email addresses, employment info etc. However, this large sample does contain useful variables such as Age, Gender, Friend Count, Friendships initiated, likes, likes received, year joined etc.
The first graph that I plotted was a simple box plot showing gender vs Friendship initiated %. I calculated this percentage by simply dividing friendships initiated by overall friend count. Here’s what it looked like.
These initials calculations showed me a median friendship % of 57% for females and 67% for males. So it seems like my suspicions proved to be correct, that males do in fact send out more friend requests online than women. However, I was expecting a bigger difference.
I realized that this sample includes people of all ages. I figured, what if we look at this relationship one more time, this time taking into account the person’s age. I plotted my findings on this line graph.
This graph shows that in younger users, there is a much bigger difference in the medians. The biggest difference can be seen around the age 18 mark, where there is over a 20% difference between friendships initiated by males vs females. The graph also seems to tell the story that the older the users are, the more even the friendships initiated % is. It is around the age 50 mark where the two lines cross each other for the first time. Another observation is that the friendships initiated % for females seems to stay reasonably constant throughout their lifespan whereas for males, the percentage significantly declines over time.