The majority of questions that I receive at AllExperts.com are, perhaps surprisingly, from women. Even more encouraging, the questions are usually intelligent and do not give the impression that the person is panic-stricken. Why do women ask the questions? I have a theory, and it doesn’t have much to do with men not wanting to stop and ask for directions.
Women in American society, at least, are also on the front lines of the household and the workplace. They are the first to notice insects and spiders trespassing in the home or office. Their protective motherly instincts kick in, and their first priority is to determine the identity of the intruder and understand whether it poses a health threat to their family, co-workers, pets, houseplants, pantry, or property. They want to know, ideally, if there is a way to confront the creature that avoids using insecticides or other toxins. A few are truly concerned about acting humanely toward the organism.
Oddly, the questions I get from men are frequently nostalgic. They are curious about insects and other arthropods they saw decades earlier. One gets the impression that (a) they have too much time on their hands and (b) they are thrilled that the Internet now gives them the opportunity to pose such questions to an expert that was previously less accessible.
The challenge now is to increase the opportunities for interaction between the scientific community and the general public, and improve the accuracy of information available on the Internet and through broadcast media. We need to fairly compensate science writers for providing just those services, but that is a topic for another day.