The Finkbeiner test is a way of determining sex bias in journalism. It is somewhat akin to the Bechdel test. While the Bechdel test looks at women's roles in fictional narratives (particularly movies), the Finkbeiner test looks at journalistic articles reporting on female subjects. In order to pass the test, a piece must not mention:

  1. The fact that the subject is a woman;
  2. Her husband's job;
  3. Her child care arrangements;
  4. How she nurtures her underlings;
  5. How she was taken aback by the competitiveness in her field;
  6. How she's such a role model for other women;
  7. That she's the 'first woman to X'

Basically, it's a list of common rhetorical flourishes that journalists use to indicate how impressive and surprising it is that a woman has done this thing -- and yes, references to her being female/married/a mother count, as we don't do these things for men, meaning that they function to remind the reader in no uncertain terms that this is a woman we're talking about.

This test was created by journalist Christie Aschwanden (coined here). She named it for Ann Finkbeiner, who noted that a recent article on astronomer Vera Rubin made reference to her sex and/or gender roles in 12 of its 24 paragraphs. Finkbeiner pledged to write an article that treated a woman scientist as if she were a successful scientist, rather than a successful woman.

Brevity Quest 2016

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