Today I did a very minor experiment. I went to a well-populated public square and kept a running tally of everyone I saw, the gender they appeared to be presenting, and whether they appeared to be alone or in a group or couple. These are my results:
Men alone - 54
Women alone - 26
Men in a group or couple - 88
Women in a group or couple - 103
Total men - 142
Total women - 129
Total solos - 80
Total grouped/coupled - 191
Total people - 271
These observations were made from about 8-9 PM on a Friday evening in Davis Square, a heavily-trafficked, well-lit social area near a university campus.
Now, what I didn't do was make any attempt to discover why people were there alone or in groups, let alone contact people who stayed home today and ask them why. So I don't want to try to force any interpretation onto these data. Statements like "women are more sociable!" or "women don't feel safe alone!" cannot be made from my observations. But whatever the reason, women are less likely to be out alone. 38% of the men out tonight in Davis were alone, and only 20% of the women.
Random qualitative observations:
-By far the most common grouping was a MF couple. But there were a surprising number of MMF groupings, and relatively far fewer MFF groups. (The women made it up in numbers by appearing in FF pairs far more often than there were MM pairs.)
-Of the women who were alone, more than half of them were on their cellphones either talking or texting.
-Solos of both genders were more likely to be going somewhere, while groups were more likely to stop at the square and hang out. This effect was much more pronounced for women; several solo men stopped to hang out, but almost all of the solo women kept walking.
-I got hit on twice while making these observations. (Neither one was my type. Like, at all.)
"Whatcha writing there? Wow, that's really interesting. You must be a really thoughtful person. I like to write too, you know."
"Sir, correlation is not causation, but you're providing an intriguingly explanatory anecdote here. Also, I have to go iron my cat."