It has been claimed that Chinese characters containing a woman radical (e.g., jian1 'adultery') tend to reflect negatively on women. We investigated this claim by asking Taiwan college students (24 men and 19 women) to rate the valence (1, 0, or -1) of 323 gender-based characters and their dictionary definitions. For men and women alike, characters with the son radical (k = 22) were rated more positively than characters with the woman radical (k = 103), although the latter also received a positive rating. Characters with the human radical (k = 198) were neutral. We conclude that gender inequality does not find itself in the gender-based characters. Whether it may be observed in other linguistic expressions of Chinese needs to be addressed with care.
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