Digitization and the Gender Score Gap in Product Ratings: Evidence from the Movies
46 Pages Posted: 26 Jan 2023
Date Written: January 25, 2023
Digitization has acted as a democratizing force in the content industries, enabling both a dramatic increase in the production of creative products and the emergence of new sources of information to discover them. In the context of the movie industry, I explore whether crowd-based information sources enabled by digitization provide gender-neutral product ratings relative to a traditional information environment based on professional critics. In particular, I classify movies as male or female based on the gender composition of their cast and estimate how these two information environments affect the gender gap in movie ratings. Results show that while both male and female movies receive similar ratings in a critic-based environment, the gender score gap increases substantially in a crowd-based environment and at the expense of female movies, even after controlling for movie quality. A crowd-based rating system also leads to a significantly larger share of extremely low ratings assigned to female movies, which is exclusively driven by male crowd reviewers. Using a rating design change implemented by the review-aggregating platform Rotten Tomatoes, results further indicate that this overall increase in gender inequality is driven by a selected group of online reviewers rather than by a general bias against movies with more prominent female presence. These findings have important implications for the role and design of online review-aggregating platforms in reducing bias against female representation in movies.
Keywords: Digital Platforms, Product Ratings, Critics, Crowds, Gender Bias, Movie Industry
JEL Classification: D83,L15,L82,O33
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