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Only female common ancestors?

Only female common ancestors?

Posted: 2 Jan 2013 4:34PM GMT
Classification: Query
AncestryDNA presents me with 5 matches with hints, the four I can see so far (the 5th is a private tree) all identify a female common ancestor. Reviewing the cousin relationship chart, it appears that the relationship could have been mapped from either the male or female partner of the couple. I understood the autosomal DNA test to be independent of gender. Is it because I am a woman that AncestryDNA software is by default showing the cousin relationship from the distaff side?

Re: Only female common ancestors?

Posted: 2 Jan 2013 5:11PM GMT
Classification: Query
Autosomal DNA is indeed independent of gender. The fact that 4 out of 4 matches had a female common ancestor identified is just a coincidence.

Cyndi

Re: Only female common ancestors?

Posted: 2 Jan 2013 6:26PM GMT
Classification: Query
Edited: 2 Jan 2013 6:33PM GMT
I am curious about this also. Since the woman's surname was more likely to have changed each generation the women somehow seem to be difficult to adequately represent. This is not meant toward ancestry but there seems to have been a historical unrepresentation of women's lines that you see even in current works. I suppose part of this was bias, in the past, toward men and more was written about them. Another part of it was the difficulty following the name changes. I had thought that I would receive a lot of matches for my mother's side(since I am female and it would follow my maternal line) and have received far more for my father's side. Even the matches found for my mother's line almost seem break out of my maternal line and end up with the male side.

Also, the spouses do not seem to be showing up as matches. Again, it appears to be the women who are primarily under-represented, although not every time.

Could this be because the trees have not focused on the women's lines enough or is it still difficult to track the woman's lineage with DNA?

Re: Only female common ancestors?

Posted: 2 Jan 2013 6:57PM GMT
Classification: Query
Interestingly, ancestry.com matches have only recently, say in the last 3-4 weeks, started showing both spouses as shared ancestors. Before that you would get a shared ancestor to the male, but if you looked in your surname list, you would see the maiden name (sometimes) and by clicking on it, you would find the spouse of the shared ancestor. So they don't do it consistently now, but going back to old matches, I am now seeing both spouses showing up as shared ancestors when they didn't before. They must have tinkered with the program to allow it to find both.

It all seems to be evolving, and I can only imagine how many choices the programers have to make in designing the search engine!

The other issue is undoubtedly that we users often have difficulties worked out these female lines, because of the name changes etc. I have found the DNA match a wonderful new tool because it will find me a match to a sibling (shows up only as a shared surname, but I can then look at where the sibling surname was and use location and dates to place my lonely female into a family that was unknown before).

Re: Only female common ancestors?

Posted: 2 Jan 2013 7:24PM GMT
Classification: Query
There are three different issues here:

1) Does autosomal DNA differentiate between male and female? The answer is it does not (with one exception: if the X chromosome is included, then females will have 2 of them vs 1 for males, but it makes little to no difference in overall results).

2) Will being one gender change the gender of the matches I get? The answer is no. There may be a gender difference in who signs up for the DNA tests (within your potential match groups). But the computer program that matches you up will not care one whit about your gender or your matches' gender (for autosomal testing).

3) Are there more men than women in someone's known family tree? Sometimes yes. Men are easier to track down through paper trails. In part because they usually keep their surname and women rarely do. In part because older census records, tax records, military records, deed records, city directories, and so forth are either for men only (or mostly) or only write down the name of the "head" of the household, presumed to be male if one is present. Some people also have more interest in tracking their male relatives.

Cyndi

Re: Only female common ancestors?

Posted: 2 Jan 2013 7:32PM GMT
Classification: Query
My shared ancestor hints now display both couples, with only a couple of exceptions, where they link to a woman and in those cases, it is because my tree and my matches tree have different spouses entered (and in both cases, the hint is wrong and the woman in my tree is not the same woman that is in the other tree). Until several weeks ago, most hints were matched only to the male.

You wrote: "I had thought that I would receive a lot of matches for my mother's side(since I am female and it would follow my maternal line) and have received far more for my father's side."

Unlike mt/y-dna, autosomal dna is not gender specific. You have autosomal dna, in equal parts, from both your parents and your results reflect that. What you get in matches will come from both sides, limited only by the database and who has been tested.

Re: Only female common ancestors?

Posted: 2 Jan 2013 7:41PM GMT
Classification: Query
Edited: 2 Jan 2013 7:45PM GMT
I was given an ancestry provided surname match of a man to a woman in the early 1700's. Obviously this is not the exact same person. And she cannot account for that surname being handed down (there are living men with this surname). She married and her children have a different surname (which changes each generation).

So another question that I have would be do I look for a match among her descendants children who would actually have a different surname or look for a sibling or father and follow the surname, or could it be the mother with yet a different surname. No one appears to have a father for her in any tree that I have seen and there is almost no documentation for her so finding the father could be challenging. The same with a brother since I would have to have a parent to find the brother. Also, she was a first generation immigrant so she could have arrived on the boat from anywhere. If I am truly related to her, there does appear to be some information for her spouse but that was not the match. I am not sure what direction to head with just having her. In other words am I trying to follow the surname or her family whatever the name (could be the so frequently overlooked mother)?

That was another issue concerning women that I am noticing is that people seem to be forgetting the wives ethnicity and focusing only on the surname ethnicity.

Re: Only female common ancestors?

Posted: 2 Jan 2013 7:43PM GMT
Classification: Query
I think you missed one other issue - does the ancestry.com search engine highlight both names of a married couple when it finds both common ancestors (not related to whether it is in fact a DNA match to both - it may or may not be) but will your screen show both names as a shared ancestor "hint" (the pale blue horseshoe with both trees highlighted in a U-shape). Until about 3-4 weeks ago, it did not -- since then, it does show them "sometimes" but not always.

Otherwise, we are on the same page re gender and autosomal DNA - I thought the questioner might also be asking about how ancestry.com is showing results and if you were in the beta phase, you might have notice this recent change (noted in some earlier threads when it first started appearing). But it still isn't consistent...

Re: Only female common ancestors? - does phasing play a role

Posted: 2 Jan 2013 7:58PM GMT
Classification: Query
By the way, to add another question to this thread, I have seen many references to the fact that ancestry.com is "phasing" the autosomal DNA it is testing. The definition of phasing is: "Phasing is the task or process of determining the parental source of a SNP's alleles. A simpler way to put it, it is the process of trying to determine which DNA came from the mother, and which came from the father. The term is usually applied to types of DNA that recombine, such as autosomal DNA or the X-chromosome. The benefit of phasing is being able to identify which ancestor a segment was inherited from." I have no idea whether this might be a clue as to when their search engine turns up both a male and female couple and when it doesn't. Other companies don't yet all do this (some may), but some more technical people say that it can be useful. I guess we will know more when that raw data gets added.

Re: Only female common ancestors?

Posted: 2 Jan 2013 8:01PM GMT
Classification: Query
In addition, to the above questions concerning where to focus my attention, it would seem that if I am a match to the couple than I should look at the children? If I am a match only to her than I should look at her parentage (both mother and father)?

I do have matches where the person did not go the one person back to make the exact match so for the match to the tree I am not descended from the couple, nor even from the person the other tree has but from the person (actually couple) they have yet to add to their tree.
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