Results from recent brief survey of iNat users


From 16-22 Sept I had a survey open, and I posted a link to it here, in some observation comments, and on Twitter under the iNaturalist hashtag. There were 202 responses. It was all inspired by this post, “Why is iNat male-dominated?” (I also posted a link in that thread but it wasn’t at the top so I don’t know how much it actually got clicked.)

TL;DR: iNat is not male-dominated. Men do observe and ID a lot more, though.

Gonna start by saying that this survey was very amateur, very unscience, etc. There will be biases! So many of them! This entire post is just wild speculation. One person pointed out in a forum thread that they’d heard women were more likely to fill in surveys, and another person pointed out in the feedback box that as a woman they’d been warned to avoid the forums as a place more hostile to women. So maybe those two biases cancel out, who knows.

What we do know is, these results are going to be mostly representative of people who use the forums, which is only a small proportion of iNat action.

Anyway. Here’s how the gender stuff broke down:



In previous surveys like this I’ve mostly found about 7% of participants are nonbinary, so this is not far off standard, I think?

Here’s how the ages break down by gender:



As you can see, “nonbinary” is a small enough sample that it can’t really be reliable. :D But women tended to be older on average than men. The shape of the age distribution is pretty representative of internet users in general, in my experience, but also it’s flatter. Other sites tend to have a much sharper high around 20-30ish, which means iNat is generally a bit older. If you’re curious you can google for age demographics for various websites like Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Reddit, etc etc.


Men observe and identify significantly more than women, but also more than one woman said (in the feedback box and in the various forum posts) that they (or women in general) tend to have full time jobs and childcare/family responsibilities. It’s pretty well-known that women do a heck of a lot more unpaid/invisible labour and therefore have less free time, so it makes sense to me that women would in general be using iNat less than men.


I liked that nonbinary people have a masculine number of IDs and a feminine number of observations. :D


I guess it’s even more speculatey than the average for this “”“report”"", but from this it seems to be possible to hazard a guess that women don’t stick around for as long as men. But women still filled in the survey as much as men! If anything, it could mean that more women join iNaturalist, in order for them to leave more often and also be equal in number to (or at least not significantly fewer in number than) men. (Again, the nonbinary sample is way too small to be reliable.)


And finally, a potential explanation!!! Men are a lot (11%) more likely to have their name in their avatar, and faces in avatars is less common across the board but men are also way more (13%) likely to have their faces in their avatars. (In retrospect I wish I had specified first name, because since then I’ve noticed plenty of people with ABSurname as usernames, for example, and those names do contain names but are impossible to casually gender.)

So there you have it. You think there are more men because there are more “out” men. Women hide their genders online to avoid online sexism, which is generally known online anyway but was also mentioned in the forum topics here - one person said they hid their gender because they didn’t want people to question their IDs as much, for example.

Anyway, I hope this has been interesting. :) If you would like to play with the numbers yourself, please feel free to check out the Google Sheet of responses and all the weird queries I made to go with it. I’m sure there were other ways I wanted to compare all the answers to each other but I just forgot, so if you do decide to File > Make a copy and do something with it, post some info and pics here so we can all go “oooooo”.

Thanks everyone for your participation!

Edit: Folks are assuming I’m a man in the replies, probably because of my avatar, so I just wanted to mention that I’m nonbinary and my pronouns are they/them. He/him pronouns are less objectionable to me than she/her but both are incorrect. :) Thanks!

Edit: I’m going to make the spreadsheet private, because someone said that the number of IDs and observations mean that people could be identified (and their genders and ages extracted)! Sorry about that!


My take on the join by year chart was that recruitment of women was significantly down 2 years(2015-16) for some reason, not that they don’t stay as long, but as you said, it is speculative. For the years 2011 through 2014, there are 3% more women than men in that range.

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I wouldn’t draw any conclusions from the survey statistics given it was not scientific in its sampling.


Well that’s not good.


I wouldn’t draw any conclusions from the survey statistics given it was not scientific in its sampling.

Yes, thank you, I do mention that repeatedly. :D For a start, right there at the top.

Gonna start by saying that this survey was very amateur, very unscience, etc. There will be biases! So many of them! This entire post is just wild speculation.

However, it’s my post and I can do what I want.

Since you’re telling me something that I already said, you fit under Reply Guy #7: The Mansplainer.

Edit: Striking all of that, jnstuart wasn’t talking to me, but their reply didn’t thread for some reason!


To be fair, the comment was “I wouldn’t…”, not “you shouldn’t”, and I don’t think telling somebody something they already said is mansplaining…

The charitable interpretation is that they’re giving me advice under the guise of just telling me what they would do in my situation, so they’d still be #1 Life Coach:thinking:

I don’t think telling somebody something they already said is mansplaining…

It’s given as an example of mansplaining by the author in that tweet thread I keep linking to, right underneath the tweet that says “#7: The Mansplainer”.

Edit: Irrelevant, 'cos it’s based on a misunderstanding!

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hmmmm… you state it shouldn’t have conclusions drawn from it, and then proceed to draw conclusons, and then when somebody repeats your assertion that conclusions shouldn’t be drawn you pigeon-hole their reply as #7, or at a charitable interpretation at least as #1… i feel like I need to go and do a paper just to understand your reaction to the opinion expressed.

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Heh. :D If no conclusions should or can be drawn then doing the survey is pointless, but I wanted to do the survey because it’s fun, and I like to draw conclusions from things, and I figure as long as I make it very clear at the start and throughout that the conclusions are in no way accurate then it’s fine and maybe it’s interesting and fun for people other than me too. 8 hearts so far suggests I’m right.

And separately, a man repeating someone’s words back to them as if they never said it in the first place, is mansplaining. A person saying “in your shoes I would…” is unsolicited advice.

I don’t see a conflict! :)


yeah… nah! An opinion was expressed, they owned it, no need to bash them into #anything… and for what it’s worth I agree with them.


You did draw the conclusion that iNat is not male dominated, and you did that on the other topic without, in the same post, defining what you meant by dominated nor by qualifying that it was a small biased survey and that your conclusions are (as you say) “wild speculation”. I think that’s harmful.

I agree that the statistics shouldn’t be used to draw any conclusions. The anecdotes in the free comment section are the most interesting part of the survey anyway.


you mean on that other topic that is titled “Why is iNat male-dominated?” that is based on anecdotes and is full of anecdotes and where the original poster later says that her own look at sign ups shows that about half the people signing up are women (contrary to the title of the post)?

i think it’s obvious to anyone looking at the results of this survey that you have to look at it with a grain of salt. i think it’s fine to talk about what the results of the survey show without constant reminders of bias or non-scientific methods.


I’m more concerned about the back-handed pigeon-holing of someone elses opinion as #7 or #1, and especially after stating they like to wildly speculate and draw conclusions, even if they are wildly wrong! The comment that 8 hearts says others think they are right has me wanting to withdraw my like on that post, which was made when it simply stated “as i have already said” and before that extra dribble was added, but for some reason discourse won’t allow me to withdraw it :(


There are more women in the world than men, but I don’t think a reasonable conclusion would be to say that the world is women dominated unless you’re specifically defining that dominated refers strictly to population. You can have a room of 5 women and 5 men where 80 percent of the words are spoken by men. Looks a bit similar to these conversations…


That’s fair, I did just post a link and hope that everyone would follow it and see all my disclaimers, without actually clarifying my conclusion! I’ll go remove those.

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Thanks, these are good points, and I appreciate your support!

if you want to define male domination as men having a dominant voice, i think that’s a point that would be worth exploring and defining / clarifying over at the other discussion. but to be fair, no one’s really clearly defined what male domination means over there, and i don’t fault cas4moss for having defined it in a way that’s different from what you’re describing.

over at this discussion, what it looks like to me is a person takes the effort to gather evidence without drawing a conclusion in advance, and then when they present that evidence and draw conclusions that people don’t like, people tell them they can’t draw these conclusions, even though the effort they’ve gone through is appears to be more than any of the analysis done in the other thread. personally, i applaud the effort as being better than anything that came before, even with its faults. i think it’s better to say how can we improve on this effort rather than shutting it down altogether.


Good point! And to the survey results too, since there were similar numbers of male and female participants, but the men were observing and identifying a lot more.

I actually don’t see anything wildly unexpected or “unfavorable” from their survey, if anything based on my own experiences with social media, surveys, and sharing nature observations I might have expected many more women than men to have filled it out.

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are you saying that women have an overrepresented voice here? the survey was too female dominated?