Gender and Blogging

by Kieran Healy on December 17, 2004

With one pretty bad tempered thread going strong and evidence of another one tipping over into trolldom, it may not be worth worth adding to the already extensive body of commentary about the gender gap in blogging. But fools skate without paddles on thin ice near the edge of volcanoes, etc. I hope we can keep things civil.

Is there a gender gap at CT?


Well, of course there is. Just look at the roster to your left. Of the sixteen contributors, thirteen of them are men. One of them has been dead for some time, though, so really we have fifteen people. Of those, perhaps four contributors don’t post that often—two or three times a month, or even much less. Of the people you’re most likely to see posting on CT, 10 are male and 2 are female. So that’s a gap.



Is CT unusual in this respect?


No. Take the population of academic blogs in the list to the right. Here’s Henry’s count of them:

Anyone who qualifies under the guidelines and comes to our attention somehow (or nominates themselves) gets into the blogroll – we don’t pick and choose – while there may be biases in the data, they’re not conscious ones on our part. I did a rough-and-ready count of the numbers of male and female academics, discounting group blogs, pseudonymous blogs, and others where I couldn’t figure out the gender. My quick-and-ready total (which could probably do with re-checking) was that there were 302 single authored academic blogs in total, of which 258 were authored by men, and 42 were authored by women. In other words, about 14.5% of the single authored academic blogs that we know about seem to be authored by women. I didn’t count representation in group blogs, but my hazy impression is that the ratio isn’t too different. If this is right, it would seem to suggest that there’s a general problem out there. You can argue about whether CT has a specific responsibility to address that problem or not – but it isn’t a problem that is particular to CT as best as I can tell. It’s an imbalance in the academic blogosphere as a whole.

While there may not be fewer female bloggers in general, there do seem to be fewer female academic bloggers, in particular.

Why does this imbalance exist?


The fact that there are fewer academic women with blogs shouldn’t be that much of a surprise, given everything else we know about gender issues in academia or elsewhere. The mechanism generating this outcome is harder to pin down. What might it (or they) be? I fear that not very much in the next few paragraphs is going to be original.

Within the blogosphere[1] homophily may explain a lot. The tendency for like to associate with like, or for “similarity to breed connection” is a very general social process. Similarity on various dimensions might predict who you read and link to on your blog. With respect to gender, it might be that men are more likely to link to men and women to women, if only because (to begin with) you’re more likely to be acquainted with someone of the same sex as you. The blogs you’re likely to discover will be influenced by this process. The composition of the blogosphere will look very different to people in different parts of it as a result. (This is likely to lead to shouting matches of the “Well I haven’t seen anything like that” variety.)

This process of association affects content, too. which in turn affects the probability of reading and linking. It may be that explicitly political blogs are more male-oriented because of the confluence of male concerns and linking patterns. For example, earlier this year Matt Yglesias was wondering why women weren’t interested in politics. There’s a time-demands answer to this, which I’ll get to in a minute, but it’s also the case that many of the political concerns of women are not well-addressed in mainstream political commentary, or are simply not thought to be political issues at all (e.g., “work/family choices”).

Given the size and network-structure of the blogosphere, the upshot is that there will be many, many blogs with different perspectives from yours that you don’t ever read or link to, even though you’re probably only one or two degrees of separation removed from them via blogrolls. For instance, we don’t link to feministe and she doesn’t link to us, though we share a tie through Respectful of Otters and probably other blogs, too. Nobody chose not to link to her, of course. It’s just that, insofar as you make your reading and linking choices on homophily criteria, you contribute to this kind of segregation.

The degree to which this kind of homophily-driven segregation is offset by the ease with which you can read about and link to people different from you is the subject of a debate started by Cass Sunstein in his book Republic.com. Sunstein was pessimistic, but wrote his essay before blogging became really popular, and many people have been more optimistic than him as a result. My feeling is that, perversely, linking and exchange of views across the political divide (polarized as it’s supposed to be) is more likely than a decent gender balance.

A related, but separate, mechanism that would push things in the same direction is the tendency of women not to demand attention or rewards for their efforts. By not promoting themselves enough, female bloggers might shortchange themselves. I have no evidence that this actually happens, by the way, it’s just a plausible extension of a recognized phenomenon elsewhere.

Outside the blogosphere, there’s the question of the material conditions of blog production (so to speak). In the case of academia, it seems clear that women thinking of starting a blog would have more reservations about it than men—and with good reason. Unequal family responsibilities, second shift problems and many other smaller issues (e.g., familiarity with the technology) probably also play a role.

What about CT?


The homophily explanation works well for CT’s formation and growth. I imagine the same is true of most group blogs: there’s a reason that nearly all the members of the Volokh conspiracy (15 contributors, 1 woman, 2 pseudonyms) have a personal connection to Eugene Volokh, are lawyers, and share a broadly right-libertarian political outlook. Similarly, the recently-formed Left2Right (26 contributors, 6 women) are all philosophers of one description or another. That’s how these groups form. I’d say that CT has fewer pre-existing personal ties between its members than is typical for group blogs (one marriage notwithstanding).[2] Our original membership was formed when one person emailed six or seven of his regular reads (all male) with the idea of forming a group blog. Guest bloggers who later became regular members were recruited partly through personal networks and partly through self-nomination. Interestingly, I don’t think we ever had a woman ask whether she could write for us, whereas at least four men have.

I think that the population-level is where we should be most concerned about issues of equity. The conversations sustained across blogs should be representative at least of the composition of bloggers. People who think this isn’t important should recall the complaints that get made when journalists write stories about blogging: it usually turns out that the bloggers that get the most attention—e.g., Mickey Kaus, Glenn Reynolds, Josh Marshall—are often people with strong ties to mainstream media outlets, or are in fact full-time journalists. Homophily again. Worrying about the composition of specific blogs seems less productive. CT is not a formal organization, doesn’t provide a service people pay for, and comes with no warranty express or implied about the content or quality of its contributions. There are a myriad of other choices available should you not be satisfied, and I don’t think anyone is actually forced to read us. Even so, I do think that if we’d been a little more on the ball earlier on—before we maxed-out the roster, discovered that this was going to be a relatively popular enterprise, or realized we might need to plan for growth, or anything else—we might have a somewhat different group today.

Update: David Adesnik at OxBlog responds in part to this post, though I don’t find a lot of it all that satisfactory. Some quick responses. First, David says, “Surprisingly, one issue Kieran doesn’t raise is whether the gender gap in academic blogging reflects the gender gap in academia as whole.” This is odd, because the first sentence in the “Why Does This Imbalance Exist?” section above says, “The fact that there are fewer academic women with blogs shouldn’t be that much of a surprise, given everything else we know about gender issues in academia or elsewhere.” I didn’t rehearse that stuff, but it’s not true to say I didn’t bring it up. Second, and a bit more substantively, David says

The most interesting idea that Kieran throws out there is that women have a general tendency to be less assertive than men when it comes to demanding attention and rewards for their achievement. … This identification of significant behavior differences between the sexes opens up a whole Pandora’s Box of hypotheses about the gender gap that might sound cliche and sexist if a conservative without a Ph.D. in sociology decided to elaborate them.

This isn’t right, either. Let me reiterate (again) that I don’t know whether this phenomenon matters to blogging, or what its importance is relative to other mechanisms. It’s just one possibility. However, believing it entails no commitment at all to “cliche[d] and sexist” views. Not asking for things or not promoting yourself can just be a learned behavior whose rudiments are acquired very early in life and which can be reinforced in all sorts of ways later on in the workplace or seminar room. In other words, this sort of gendered practice might be explanatory in particular contexts, but is also itself an outcome, rather than some immutable fact about men and women.

And if any female bloggers who’ve thought about this more than I have want to ping this thread, feel free.

Notes

fn1. Can we have a better word for that, please?

fn2. Though my own argument suggests there are plenty of group blogs out there that might be counterexamples, but I’m unaware of their existence.

{ 122 comments }

1

Ophelia Benson 12.17.04 at 8:15 pm

I think there may be something rather depressing lurking in the background of this issue. I had the same thought during the kerfuffle about Prospect’s list of intellectuals and how few women there were on it. The ‘correct the balance’ list that someone did (the Guardian, wasn’t it?) filled it out, in fact padded it, with a whole lot of women who weren’t (aren’t) intellectuals at all, but publicists, pop singers, advertisers, that sort of thing. (Which is not, before anyone calls me an elitist, to say that those are worse or inferior things to be, just that that’s not what the list was a list of.) I had to wonder if that might be because there just weren’t enough (or ‘enough’) female intellectuals. Same with this. Maybe there just aren’t ‘enough’ – enough to make up the numbers that are under discussion, that is.

That thought gets me down. Kind of in the same way that a glance at the magazine section at Barnes and Noble does. It has a ‘women’s interest’ section. What’s in it? Bridal mags, wedding mags, be pretty mags.

So if it’s true that there aren’t ‘enough’ women – why don’t more women want to talk about things other than the ‘work/family divide’ and similar? I don’t know. But I wish more did.

2

Russell Arben Fox 12.17.04 at 8:21 pm

“I do think that if we’d been a little more on the ball earlier on — before we maxed-out the roster, discovered that this was going to be a relatively popular enterprise, or realized we might need to plan for growth, or anything else — we might have a somewhat different group today.”

I think this admission is reflected in a lot of blog-construction thinking which has followed in CT’s wake Kieran, or at least that’s been my experience. CT was one of the first real “superblogs” to emerge in the blogosphere; Volokh’s was always a somewhat special case, since he recruited so many people solely on the basis of friendship and family. When Times and Seasons, the group blog I contribute to, got off the ground there was a lot of concern and discussion about maintaining gender and ideological balance as we grew, and that concern has continued. Not that T&S is an ideal example–15 permanent bloggers, 11 male, 4 female. (But as Mormons, we have our own rather deeply embedded variation on those same “blog production” issues you mention.) Still, because of CT and others were available as examples to us of how blogs grow, we made decisions with the consequence that homophily hasn’t been the last word in our development. CT should take some collective pleasure in knowing that, not only is one of the very best blogs anywhere, but that it also has served as a lesson and a point of reference as the blogosphere has evolved.

3

alkali 12.17.04 at 8:25 pm

… it’s also the case that many of the political concerns of women are not well-addressed in mainstream political commentary, or are simply not thought to be political issues at all (e.g., “work/family choices”).

I note the passive — “not thought to be” — and would add that the missing subject here could be “men” or “women”.

4

Ralph Luker 12.17.04 at 8:29 pm

At Cliopatria, we’re pleased to have four women among our fourteen group members. By Kieran’s calculations, that’s probably a higher percentage than in most academic group blogs. We have worked at it and are the better for it.
It does seem to me that one of the factors that Kieran may not take sufficient account of is that a large share of female academics who blog do so anonymously or pseudonymously. They may have greater reason for doing so. I don’t know. The blinder that protects the identity of the blogger also can make it more difficult for others of us to reach out to them. The other, related issue, is whether a group blog is interested in having some members who blog in their own name and some who blog anonymously or pseudonymously.
At Cliopatria, we’ve chosen to include only bloggers who post in their own names. Other group blogs, like The Volokh Conspiracy and Liberty & Power, another group blog at History News Network, have a mix including anonymous or pseudonymous bloggers. Even if you make the latter concession, however, it doesn’t guarantee a fuller participation of women in the group.

5

mcm 12.17.04 at 8:38 pm

“So if it’s true that there aren’t ‘enough’ women – why don’t more women want to talk about things other than the ‘work/family divide’ and similar? I don’t know. But I wish more did.”

I think your question supplies its own answer. Not the only answer, to be sure, but one important answer. I wish there were more women, too. I’m convinced there won’t be more or enough or whatever until we resolve the problem of the work/family divide.

6

Lauren 12.17.04 at 8:55 pm

Actually, I don’t know why I haven’t linked CT. I lurk here all the time.

The conversation on gender and blogging is one I’m not ready to have again, as I’ve discussed it elsewhere many times before. But I will say this: I think homophily is more likely a topic applicable to the linking and reading cul-de-sac than it is content and occupation of the author. While work/family divides may account for some of this phenomena, I wonder how much of this is also the tendency for bloggers to eschew our professional lives in favor of something resembling more of a hobby.

7

sennoma 12.17.04 at 9:01 pm

why don’t more women want to talk about things other than the ‘work/family divide’ and similar?

I’ll take a big swinging guess at that, but first a caveat: bear in mind I’m a biologist not a sociologist/anthropologist/anyone with any kind of professional clue about such phenomena.

That said: Forces like the pay gap, glass ceiling, old boys’ club and so on are still alive and, if not exactly well, not likely to die anytime soon either. Social ideas about gender roles still seem to look backwards as much as they do forwards: the perception that “women keep house and men work” is alive and well, in various forms. So my guess is that there are simply far more women than men whose job is to run the household, and whose time (and even interests) are thereby circumscribed. To get enough (or “enough”) female intellectuals, in the blogosphere (sorry, can’t think of a better word) and elsewhere, you simply need a society that puts women on a more equal footing. As CT’s gender imbalance mirrors and likely in large part stems from a web-wide imbalance, so the web imbalance is a result of a still wider imbalance in society at large.

(On preview: mcm said the same thing only better, but I typed all that out and now I’m gonna damn well post it anyway.)

8

David Velleman 12.17.04 at 9:33 pm

Much as I’d like to crow about the representation of women at L2R, I worry that it is partly due to the way in which participants were recruited. It sounds as if the participants in CT were already bloggers in their own right. None of the people at L2R was already a blogger, to my knowledge. And I can’t guarantee that all of them are going to be bloggers, either. Some on the list agreed to join without really knowing what they were getting into, I suspect.

I tell myself (as I told them) that their not being bloggers was an advantage. The idea was that recruiting a lot of them (26!) would make up for the fact that some of them might not take to it at first, if ever. But that remains to be seen.

In any case, the L2R roster can’t yet be added to the population of active bloggers, given that only about half of us have been active as yet.

9

Amanda 12.17.04 at 9:44 pm

If you’re going to blame women for not “promoting” themselves enough, please remember that men have their share of 50% or better for not linking to female bloggers, instead preferring to talk about how much they’d like to link to female bloggers, if only those female bloggers tried strenously to get the attention of the male bloggers. If you do care to actually read some blogs, http://www.feministblogs.org is a good starting point, as is http://whatshesaid.the-goddess.org/, a long, long, long list that leftist female bloggers to not promote themselves.

10

Kieran Healy 12.17.04 at 9:51 pm

If you’re going to blame women for not “promoting” themselves enough,

Woah, slow down there. Read the post again and weigh how I persented the homophily (who-you-link-to) explanation vs the less-self-promotion explanation. I spent much less time on the latter and said there wasn’t direct evidence for it for the blogging case, just relevant findings from elsewhere.

11

PZ Myers 12.17.04 at 10:14 pm

I really don’t buy the homophily argument. The vast majority of the people on my blogroll are people I’ve never met and probably never will meet — the only connection is this electronical one, via the web. I don’t read Crooked Timber because I like the brand of gonad you bear, and I don’t (and can’t!) check out the boobs on the female bloggers before I link to them.

You’re going to have to have some kind of detectable writerly difference between the average male and female writer, like the self-promotion that you mention, in order for that kind of homophily to occur, and I don’t know if that’s real. I just looked over my academic blogroll, and out of 43, 22 were female. I thought I’d just tossed these people into the list because they were all strong and interesting writers, and hadn’t really thought about gender; am I operating on some different set of rules than other people?

And then I look at that other blog I’m on, the Panda’s Thumb — 1 out of 26 of the listed contributors is female. It’s not as if biology is a horribly male-dominated field, either. There is something going on, but I don’t have a clue what it is, and to be honest, this article doesn’t really help me understand, either.

And as another peculiarity, why are you writing about this? Why not one of the two women on CT? The article (and my comment here!) seem to be from an entirely male point of view, but this seems to be an issue that ought to be discussed in the voices of both genders. How much discussion did you have with female bloggers before writing this?

12

A. 12.17.04 at 10:17 pm

It is a bit depressing that a lefty academic group like y’all, intelligent good-hearted folks with lots of awareness about the serious effects of informal means of exclusion, just never thought of the issue at all on starting up.

13

visitor 12.17.04 at 10:50 pm

Interesting topic, but I’m not sure the reasons for the gender gap are clear to me either. Maybe we should ask why men get involved in political and/or academic blogging? The list of motives that have occurred to me (there may be more, or less): it allows them to bounce ideas off others, to advance arguments which seem to be ignored in the mainstream, to connect with and influence peers, to winnow their own thinking and communicate with people in a detached, virtual social setting, to engage in spirited debate with real people rather than straw men, to “hear themselves talk,” to be creative and free-form, etc. Do all of these motivations seem equally plausible for women bloggers?

Regardless of family obligations or not being able to use a web browser or whatever, a lot of women I know also feel the need to socialize with friends in person when they have spare time. I’d also throw out the idea that working in academia, or in nearly any professional setting, can often be more alienating and exhausting for women than for men, because they have less social support, more obligations (some of the time) for diminished economic rewards (most of the time), and the attendant stresses of the imposter complex and all the unspoken rules of the workplace. I don’t know if it’s true that women generally are less avid hobbyists than men, but I think there’s a marked enough gender difference in day-to-day social life that it’s plausible that the ways in which men and women choose to spend “down time” would be different too. And I think in some ways those quotidian differences are stronger among the “intelligentsia:” on the one hand, people think they’re more enlightened about or conscious of social behavior, and maybe they are; on the other hand, it’s harder to critique a culture internally which has partially institutionalized its own self-critique, because people become defensive and find the existing self-critique stressful enough without being forced to bend over *even further*.

I know also that gender-balanced intellectual communities do crop up, and where they do it often seems ridiculous to the participants that there would be a great difference between the sexes anywhere. I agree that it’s something you can’t engineer (this point was made earlier, mostly in jest, concerning posting quotas for this site’s female members): inasmuch as online communities are self-selecting you can’t demand that their dynamics just change themselves. There’s just no way to change macro-level conditioning at a small-group level: there are too many confounding factors to isolate any overriding trend or tendency; individual difference plays too great a role in the small-group dynamics. Um, but I don’t know that you can change society at a macro level either; probably best not to get into that.

14

Lis Riba 12.17.04 at 10:56 pm

By not promoting themselves enough, female bloggers might shortchange themselves.

I learned something of this earlier this year, when I discovered something I thought needed to be disseminated widely. I blogged it, and then spent several hours going around to other blogs pointing folks at my post. I was successful, but in the process I realized that I didn’t like what I had to do for promotion. All the time I spent trying to get readers for that first post was time I couldn’t spend researching and writing the next one. And that is one of my pleasures in blogging.

As a result, I’m no longer as concerned with achieving blogosphere popularity as I used to be. I know I can do it if I need to, but in general, it’s not worth a regular effort.

[I’ve written up a more detailed account of the event, if you want more info than just this summary.]

15

Zed 12.17.04 at 10:58 pm

I would tell you my own experiences with female acedemics but that would just lead to this comment being deleted. I agree, however, completely, there is an odd lack of female run blog’s.

16

Ophelia Benson 12.17.04 at 11:15 pm

“Forces like the pay gap, glass ceiling, old boys’ club and so on are still alive and, if not exactly well, not likely to die anytime soon either. Social ideas about gender roles still seem to look backwards as much as they do forwards: the perception that “women keep house and men work” is alive and well, in various forms. So my guess is that there are simply far more women than men whose job is to run the household, and whose time (and even interests) are thereby circumscribed.”

Yeah, I suppose. But I don’t think that’s all it is. I mean, some men do their share of domestic duty, some women don’t have much domestic duty to do, and bloggers are mostly slightly peculiar anyway, right?

No, the depressing possibility that I see lurking in the corner is that women on average just aren’t that interested in non-domestic stuff. Whether because they’re always getting shoved into this pigeonhole of being interested in work/family divides, or because their DNA is pushing them that way (that’s a joke). Either way it just…gets me down, as I said. If women’s interests are that narrow…well, it’s not encouraging.

(I think it has to do partly with things like the Hilary Clinton ‘baking cookies’ affair. I think most women feel embarrassed/ashamed/guilty/autistic/weird/deformed if they’re not primarily concerned with Family. So that drags down the numbers for blogs like CT that are, as people keep mentioning, about politics and such.)

17

Lauren 12.17.04 at 11:25 pm

I think most women feel embarrassed/ashamed/guilty/autistic/weird/deformed if they’re not primarily concerned with Family.

Maybe, but I’d hope that academic women and their partners would be beyond that kind of defeat.

18

Underdog 12.17.04 at 11:27 pm

Some pseudonymous bloggers are not the gender everyone assumes they are.

Food for thought..

19

Jimmy Ho 12.17.04 at 11:35 pm

What Amanda said, clickable style:

1) What She Said!

2) Feminist Blogs.

20

kaw 12.18.04 at 12:05 am

This isn’t answer the “why don’t more women blog,” question, but it’s related to the counts of women in the blogosphere. If I had to hazard a guess, I suspect that women are more likely to blog anonymously than men.

1) Women who post using their own, gender-obvious names, are more likely to get sexually harassing e-mails, trolls, propositions, stalked, etc. than men. Before you get yer collective boxers in a twist, notice I said “more likely”. This doesn’t mean that men don’t get harassed, nor that all women get harassed, nor that women can’t take care of themselves. But many women might think, “why expose myself [ha ha] to this crap if I don’t have to.”

2) Even given a world free of trolls and twits, it’s more beneficial for women to post anonymously than men. Your gender matters in shaping how competent people think you are, whether they are influenced by your argument, whether they think an argument has merit, and so forth. People assume that men are diffusely more competent than women. (See, e.g., the massive experimental literature on status expectations.) This isn’t necessarily a conscious process, it occurs with both male and female raters, and, yes, it occurs even in the liberal bastions of academia where people swear up and down that they aren’t discriminatory. So, assuming one purpose of a blog is to be heard, women are better off if they post anonymously while men — unless they are blogging about one of the few topics that women purportedly know more about, like child care — are better off if they don’t.

21

Deb Frisch 12.18.04 at 12:14 am

I think the relevant question is something like:

Why is the relative frequency of academic social scientist women bloggers substantially lower than the r.f. of assw’s in general?

Hypotheses such as too busy taking care of the kids, they’re blogging anonymously and “homophily” dominate this thread.

An alternative hypothesis is that academic women are bored to tears with pretentious multisyllabic words for everyday phenomena and also, have no interest in sparring with overconfident, pompous men any more than they already do.

Regardless of the explanation, the fact that the male/female ratio is much higher for academic bloggers than for academics should be of concern to any academic blogger who conceptualizes this activity as something in between a hobby (like golf or crocheting) and scholarship.

22

Lauren 12.18.04 at 12:20 am

What Deb said.

23

JennyD 12.18.04 at 12:25 am

There are lots of women bloggers. But you wouldn’t know that from reading your blogroll. A number of the folks on your list are gone from the blogosphere. Others haven’t posted in months.

Meanwhile, a newer, perhaps more persistent group of bloggers has come along, and a lot of us are women. And we write about politics, academics, all that thoughtful stuff. Not just cooking, cleaning, and fashion.

I agree that it’s not 50-50; there are still more men blogging alone and together (that’s a strange picture) on serious subjects. But maybe you need to get out a little more and look at what’s out here.

24

christopher m 12.18.04 at 12:28 am

Deb wrote: An alternative hypothesis is that academic women are bored to tears with pretentious multisyllabic words for everyday phenomena

Don’t you mean to say, “Or maybe academic women are sick of long words for everyday things”?

25

Kieran Healy 12.18.04 at 1:11 am

There are lots of women bloggers. But you wouldn’t know that from reading your blogroll. … maybe you need to get out a little more and look at what’s out here.

We are not Technorati. If you are a VC and want to give us money to hire an intern, feel free. Instead, we have a “link policy”:http://www.crookedtimber.org/archives/000273.html that just asks interested parties to email us if they think they should be on our list. Is this unreasonable? Spending time searching for what’s out there would entail getting out less, not more.

26

PZ Myers 12.18.04 at 1:15 am

A couple of interesting points have come up. One factor is inertia — as jennyd points out, blogrolls, especially long ones, don’t turn over enough. I know mine don’t. I toss stuff into my newsreader, because that’s easy, but getting in there and editing the stuff on the web page? That’s work. The old guard therefore is overrepresented.

Another factor: I went to feministblogs.org, and see that they are welcoming pro-feminist men. But you know, I felt rather reluctant about signing up, not because I lack sympathy for the cause, but because of that ol’ grade school thing: I’m a guy. They’re girls. There’s an invisible line there to cross. It’s like when I was a kid, there was a playground with two sandboxes, and boys drifted to one and girls to the other.

Anyway, I wonder if that’s part of the problem: we’re conscious of gender distinctions and intentionally polarize ourselves. By luck or by virtue of arrogance, males staked out a pattern in their weblogs early, and females are semi-consciously avoiding following the same patterns. Or trying not to be like those “overconfident, pompous” men.

27

bitchphd 12.18.04 at 1:42 am

Why are domestic concerns considered narrow or limited? Everyone in the world has some kind of domestic life. That’s a pretty broad group.

28

Laura 12.18.04 at 1:50 am

Where are the women bloggers? Where are the women academic bloggers? Where are the women political bloggers? Why are there numbers so scarse?

All good questions, but ones that have come up in a major way at least three or four times since I’ve been blogging in the past 1-1/2 years. Those questions come up as often as the dreaded “why are academics so liberal” question. Beating. Dead. Horse.

I have another question. Why is it always guys who bring up the question about women bloggers? No offense, Kieran. I know you meant no harm by putting it forward. But I feel like sometimes there is a hidden message in these posts — Women, you should be more like us.

There are so many great women bloggers out there, many of whom are academics or write about politics. Yes, we might write about family issues (holding back the urge to get very defensive), but so does Harry and Russell Arben Fox and Tim Burke. And family/work divide issues are political. Other political bloggers write about their cats, for god’s sake.

The NYT had an article on bloggers getting large advances to write books. They were almost all women bloggers who wrote about their personal experiences, not commentary on current events. Perhaps women bloggers are smarter. They’re going after the big advances.

29

Ophelia Benson 12.18.04 at 2:00 am

“Why are domestic concerns considered narrow or limited?”

Because they are. Would CT be more interesting if the participants started posting exclusively about their domestic concerns? Not to me it wouldn’t. I avoid bloggers who go on and on about the school run and how hard it is to find good day care – just as I avoid real world human beings who go on and on about that and nothing else. Yes everybody has a domestic life; that doesn’t mean everybody wants to hear or talk about domestic life. Everybody has a GI tract, too, but that doesn’t mean everybody wants to hear or talk about each other’s digestive habits.

30

Laura 12.18.04 at 2:07 am

yeah, Ophelia, but I bet if you were constipated all the time, you would be reading other bloggers discuss their GI tract. Misery loves company. Speaking of women bloggers with GI issues, Dooce writes about that all the time.

31

Kieran Healy 12.18.04 at 2:08 am

Why is it always guys who bring up the question about women bloggers?

It wasn’t in this case. My post is a response to a question asked — by a woman — about CT in a different thread.

good questions, but ones that have come up in a major way at least three or four times since I’ve been blogging

Yes. That’s why I said right at the start that “it may not be worth worth adding to the already already extensive body of commentary” on this topic.

And between this comment

Perhaps women bloggers are smarter. They’re going after the big advances.

and Deb’s above explaining that women blog less because they are just “bored to tears” with talking “pretentious multisyllabic” nonsense to “pompous men”, I’m beginning to feel like I was right.

32

Ophelia Benson 12.18.04 at 2:11 am

“The NYT had an article on bloggers getting large advances to write books. They were almost all women bloggers who wrote about their personal experiences, not commentary on current events. Perhaps women bloggers are smarter. They’re going after the big advances.”

Right, because women like to read about other women’s personal experiences instead of all that boring wonky guy stuff, so books like that sell. Yippee. Good old post feminism. I gotta go, I need to go to Barnes & Noble to get some magazines.

33

Ophelia Benson 12.18.04 at 2:19 am

“and Deb’s above explaining that women blog less because they are just “bored to tears” with talking “pretentious multisyllabic” nonsense to “pompous men”, I’m beginning to feel like I was right.”

No. See, this is exactly what I mean. (And I realize I’m saying it very, er, bluntly. But that’s kind of the point. It’s a bit taboo, I think. Especially for women!) I hate all this ‘women are too sensible for all this pretentious abstract stuff, they’d much rather talk about kids & spouses & feelings’ crap. It’s a kind of peer pressure to be ‘normal’ and want to talk more about the sandbox than religion and identity. Well bollocks to that.

34

Ophelia Benson 12.18.04 at 2:23 am

“yeah, Ophelia, but I bet if you were constipated all the time, you would be reading other bloggers discuss their GI tract.”

What makes you think I’m not?

Sorry, I knew I had to say that before someone else did!

But seriously folks. No I wouldn’t. I’d rather be nibbled to death by chipmunks.

35

Bucky 12.18.04 at 2:24 am

I’ve been constipated lately, which seems to muddle my synapses a little; but it’s interesting, to me anyway, that in my daily-read bookmarks, which have a mix of news/intellect blogs and personal ones, the personal ones are near, at, or more than 50% female. It’s the virtual presence of women in my virtual social life. It’s the company of women.
This blog thing is so big it should be daunting to attempt to chart it, but then a lot of people’s response to daunting things is an immediate attempt to get it understood, or at least create a facsimile of understanding; to get it, get a handle on it. Academic blogs are a subset within a subset of a phenomenon that’s evolving exponentially, or at least it was an hour ago. Maybe it stopped. Probably it didn’t. One of the driving mechanisms, for post-Hegelian essayists or high school mall rodents, is display.
But I’m betting there’s a gender shift from the kids toward the grown-ups, with teenage girls mostly blogging in their age-range, and middle-aged men in theirs; and I’m betting it has a lot to do with the need for display changing with maturity and social positioning.
Love of ideas isn’t antithetical to need for attention, when they coincide interesting things happen.
Male peacocks have the irridescent fan. Females don’t. It’s heretical to suggest human displays have similar origins, mostly because they don’t, although they do sort of; and I’m comfortable with heresy, generally.
Now if I could just find that bottle of senna tabs…

36

Ancarett 12.18.04 at 2:26 am

I know many academic women who tell me I’m crazy for blogging or for having any personal presence on the internet. They’re afraid of trolling or virtual stalking of themselves or their children should they leave enough identifiers. And pseudonymous blogging isn’t all that secure (as I well know).

37

Katherine 12.18.04 at 3:28 am

The one thing that really drives me crazy in this is the idea that a lack of women political bloggers means that women aren’t interested in politics. I really don’t think that’s true as far as voter turnout, campaigns I’ve been involved in, etc. etc., all of which are much better indicators of political interest than blogging.

There was a survey in my law school that showed hugely different rates of volunteer class participation among men and women. It may be that blogging is another form of “public speaking.”

Also, I think the bloggers with the highest traffic started earliest, and there may have been more of a gender gap then.

There may something to the idea of pseudonyms too.

38

drapeto 12.18.04 at 4:06 am

i don’t think it’s because women are uninterested in things outside of domestic concerns. i think that women have to make more effort to be heard *and* throw the towel in earlier in the effort to be heard. but i will say that the gender disparity doesn’t seem to me to have as god-awful results, in terms of conversational depth, as other disparities.

it would be really helpful if the humanities profs were broken up by area studies as well as discipline, i think.

39

Biscuit 12.18.04 at 4:35 am

I meant to add a response to this post much earlier this evening, but I got distracted clicking through to Riba Rambles, ended up on a tangent about whether Buffy seasons 6 and 7 were as good as the previous five seasons, wrote an endless comment about that, which is most unlike me, as I hardly ever comment on other peoples’ blogs (yet have the gall to wish other people would comment more on my blog…), and then remembered my original purpose and returned here.

I have run a private blog with my spouse for about a year now, which is where we post our baby pictures and discuss cat shenanigans. For a long time I posted my extensive poltical commentary strictly on the private blog; recently, at the request of some of my readers (okay, my dad) who wanted to be able to pass the URL around, I’ve gone public with The Biscuit Report.

Like Riba I am not sure I want to put in the sustained effort to establish a large readership. The blogging itself is incredibly important to my intellectual life, and while I think some of my posts are good enough/important enough that I’d like them to get wider readership, I don’t in general have a pressing need to ‘make it big’. I do have other commitments in my life: notably, a 20-month old son, some contract work as a software engineer, a chronic illness to manage, and so on. So I make the time to post, but devote much less time to publicizing what I write.

Finally, while I realize that CT is an academic blog and thus it makes sense that some of the conversation focuses on women in academia, framing the question about female bloggers that way already limits it. I am not in academia or public policy. I do not hold an advanced degree. I am not on staff at a progressive monthly, and I am not a journalist. I am, in fact, mostly a stay-at-home mom. I nearly didn’t post a comment to this thread because my immediate reaction was “well, this discussion isn’t for people like me: it’s for people with credentials to blog, who know what they’re talking about.” Blogs were supposed to free us from all that, but there it is. I am a well-informed person who blogs regularly on politics because it helps me make sense of what I read, inform people who know me about things they may not otherwise know about, and contribute in some small way to democratic discourse, at least within my own tiny circle of influence. Very few educated people for whom it is not their job to do so make any kind of effort to think and write thoughtfully about politics, so, whatever my readership, I think that what I do will in the end turn out to be important to the revitalization of American Democracy (assuming it can be saved, which I certainly do not take as given). We need an army of ‘private intellectuals’ to start and sustain serious political conversations with small numbers of people they know. Grassroots intellectuals, if you will.

I suspect you may find many female bloggers hiding on the edges of the blogosphere, quietly thinking and writing about politics. Should we remain there, on the edges? Should an effort be made to get more connected? Or is it our job to look outward, to turn our gaze from our Technorati rankings and our connectedness to the center, and pull others, who are outside of political discourse altogether, into the conversation?

40

Laura 12.18.04 at 4:37 am

I’ve just returned from watching Oprah and Dr. Phil to add a couple more points.

First, for the record, I would like to see more GI tract blogs. Posts could begin “I had chili for dinner tonight and, man, there’s a mountain of trouble going on below.” Need more of that in the blogosphere.

Second, smart stuff comes in all shapes and sizes. I’ve read a lot of crappy (heh) wonky blogs. They clip stuff here and there and just add an “ayup.” Sorry, not a lot of interesting thought going on there. I don’t really feel like it would be a huge boon for society to see more women doing that stuff. And some of the personal blogs are quite funny, well written, or have political subthemes which makes them very worth reading.

But if you’re looking for excellent political and academic women bloggers, they’re out there. Maybe, when you weed out crappy bloggers from the mix, women’s numbers would improve.

41

Dan Kervick 12.18.04 at 4:50 am

I think there is a competitive, sporting aspect to a lot of blogging that needs to be mentioned. When I sit down at my computer, if I am interested in reading a thoughtful and patiently argued essay, I will go to an online magazine or journal. If I’m in the mood to get into a good argument, I visit a blog.

The men I know tend to like to argue, especialy about politics. Fewer of the women I know enjoy the arguing. They are just as interested in politics, and have just as interesting things to say about it, but they don’t enjoy butting antlers over it. The blogosphere is full of vigorous debates, sometimes in the comments sections of a single blog, sometimes back and forth between bloggers.

I read three female-written blogs, Just World News, War and Piece and Body and Soul, pretty much every day. The blogs are interesting and well-written, and the writing is civil and thoughtful.

But the guys blogs are more fun.

My impression is that many women, when they write in their spare time, enjoy writing in a personal, creative, reflective and self-expressive mode. I do that sometimes. But personally, I most enjoy writing an argumentative essay where I rip another guy’s argument to shreds. And if he rips my argument to shreds before I go to bed, I sometimes can’t wait to get up in the morning so I can return the favor.

Maybe this is unhealthy. But I enjoy the aggressive dimension of the blogosphere and indulge in it to sharpen my argumentative teeth.

42

Biscuit 12.18.04 at 4:50 am

Heh, maybe I would get more readers if, when I posted a link to my blog, I didn’t forget the whole ‘href’ part. The Biscuit Report

43

sennoma 12.18.04 at 6:14 am

I toss stuff into my newsreader,
because that’s easy, but getting in there and editing the stuff on the
web page? That’s work.

You can auto-generate a blogroll with Bloglines so that your blogroll is updated every time you update your feeds. Maybe other readers do something similar?

44

bad Jim 12.18.04 at 9:10 am

Perhaps, for many reasons, blogs started out as guy things, like model airplanes, and are turning into something more generally useful, which will encourage more general participation.

I suspect women are turned away from engineering by its traditional emphasis on competition (their greater presence in the sciences demonstrates that they have the skills required). This may be somewhat relevant to current patterns of blogging prominence.

My understanding is that, in the beginning, there were tech blogs, which may have had some estrogen attenuation due to the engineering culture. After September 11 came the warblogs, fueled by pure testosterone. As usual, there are historical reasons for the differential prominence of men in the blogging world, even apart from the usual issues of time management and presentation of self.

I’m not entirely sure whether or not I tend to weigh men’s and women’s opinions differently, but I am now certain that I can’t guess the gender of a writer from the writing alone. (Rivka, of Respectful of Otters, complained that some of her correspondents hadn’t picked up on the fact that she’s a woman, so I guess I’m not alone in my insensitivity.)

The blogiverse is evolving, and the direction it’s taking is probably the one most of us are encouraging. Patience!

45

Nabakov 12.18.04 at 9:53 am

“..like model airplanes”

Good analogy. Even setting up a blog and wrestling with the all attendant hoo-ha like RSS feeds, MT Blacklist et al, does seem to fit in with the kinda tunnel version that boys (and men) do tend get into more often than dames (sorry, birds).

And the point about the blogsphere evolving through its uptake by particular subcultures and response to outside events is also well taken.

As is “Patience!” It wasn’t until I was six that I could master the art of interaction with the opposite sex in a way that allowed equal time for both, without resorting to applied scatology.

46

bellatrys 12.18.04 at 11:38 am

See, most of the political and/or academic bloggers I’ve known *are* female, particularly initially – it was only as I branched out more via links that I encountered the male side.

This is probably because I came to it via fandom, which has a high percentage of female bloggers and posters, many of whom are academics (some pro, some am) and many of whom are also politically involved, often in a left-leaning way (tho’ not always.)

Thus, my awareness of the gay marriage issue and political activism being used to “freep” the American Family poll back what, two years ago? came via Hercules/Xena fandom. Not all the slash community is politically aware (!) but enough of them are to make a difference.

“Godblogging” also has a high overlap with female/academic AND fandom authors, which is where I found other people discussing the idea of the Passion as religious badfic. (Buffyfen.)

What seems to be partly the issue is that more-or-less-strictly-political bloggers don’t interact much with the communities which have other primary interests and ALSO politics, even though there is high overlap of interests (and not just food): I see plenty of fen in political blogs, and there are circles, wheels within wheels, that are about equally SFnal and political and which have high female representation and shared linkages. (I consider a blog to be the sum of posters AND regular commenters. Thus a lot of women post at Orcinus, not just Dave Niewert – it’s a very woman-friendly political blog.)

Then there’s the “on the internet, nobody knows you’re a kif” problem – in online fandom, people often name themselves after favorite charas, or places, or some ideal, so names often give no clue as to poster gender. This is part of the culture, it *is* the norm, overall, and has been for a long time, just as in the SCA one’s “real” name is one’s persona.

This is looked askance in “serious” political blogging, and then there’s the “eew, LJ cooties” thing, so blog-snobbery as well as “same planet, different worlds” social non-overlap plays a certain part.

But the thing about names and assumptions is what I want to focus on: most people assumed that I was male, because my “serious” penname, Philosopher at Large (short form P@L) is gender neutral, and obviously anyone writing about ethics and language and all must be male, right? And very few realize that my informal handle, bellatrys, rhymes with “Beatrice” for a reason and is therefore structurally a feminine name. And because I’m writing about ethics and language and politics and all, I must be male…

(I once had someone who didn’t believe women should be in the military telling me I should enlist, this younger generation of liberals etc etc. Since he bragged about being a Latinist RC as well, I pointed out to him that there was a problem with his argument that he should have seen from the start and what was that military saw about assumptions? He shut up and pretended I didn’t exist after that.)

So part of the problem may be that we are simply invisible and assumed not to exist – that anyone who posts is by default assumed to be male, just as Aristotle thought that the human norm was XY – erroneously, as has been discovered – and women were merely birth-defects.

Seriously, how many people would automatically assume, seeing a post by someone called “Skypilot” that the blogger is female, or make no assumption in re gender at all? How many would be surprised to find that they were addressing a woman with a pilot’s license, in such a case? Did you think Xan was a woman right off? Be honest, now–

47

bellatrys 12.18.04 at 12:11 pm

Afterthoughts – when MY made his rather offensive, assumption-riddled post, we had a long discussion on this on my blog, because it echoed discussions that used to happen all the time in fandom, particularly in Usenet days, but now mostly seems to happen when outsiders are talking about fandom – the “why are there almost no women sf writers/sf readers/gamers” followed by “I think it’s because of X (sexist assumption follows)” posts which used to start massive threads filled with various posters and lurkers revealing their gender and the fact that there was hardly the imbalance believed, and that the poster hadn’t realized that, say, CL Moore and James Tiptree were female, let alone counted how many current bestselling authors like CJ Cherryh and Elizabeth Moon were out there, and then the hapless fanboy would scuttle off daunted by Amazons, saying “but I still think that women don’t read Tolkien because they’re naturally nurturing and want to read about female characters not battles–“

So there was a certain sense of deja vu to it all, particularly when it became clear that MY was (like most young collegiate types) talking without having bothered to review the data in any detail.

Kieran however is approaching it with less of the pop-sci assumption quality and associated offensiveness, and so as a result there is more thoughtful dialogue and less snark (not that snark doesn’t have its place) in response.

Now, I was raised as a Theocon, and “feminist” was a dirty word where I grew up, in the world of conservative Catholic academia (yes, it exists, just below Ultima Thule) so my feminism and view of gender politics is something arrived at quite erratically and eclectically, often reinventing wheels, and with much resistance on my part. It’s only been about four years that I’ve fully accepted that I have been all along a crypto-liberal who was lied to about the non-biased and justice-based nature of conservativism.

Thus I never believed the “colonized minds/repressed women/double standard” arguments, for a long time, because after all I wasn’t told it was my duty to be selfless, giving, self-effacing, “not proud,” not selfish, but obedient and good all the time, *because* I was a girl, but because those were the proper norms for human beings, regardless of gender.

And yet – and yet – I was required to be responsible and giving and caring and never to be selfish or demand anything, and likewise my sisters – while my younger brothers were given far more leeway and less discipline, and the argument was made that “they were boys, boys need freedom,” or that boys didn’t have the natural inclination to order and domesticity thus it was futile, even though *I* certainly didn’t have the natural inclination to order and domesticity either, that’s what the fights were about, that I’d rather be watching ST:TNG and reading Bradbury than doing the dishes, too!

And so, facing up to this double standard, in how we were raised and increasingly encountering the dichotomy between the lofty, pedestal praise of womanhood (maternal or virginal) among intellectual Catholic conservatives, and the way that it actually played out, with us lucky bints “getting” all the noble opportunities for moral virtue and heroic self-sacrifice like having to stay home with six kids instead of going to a lecture with friends from work, which the paterfamilias “had” to do, poor sod — it started to wear pretty thin, that illusion of parity.

So yes, it is there, it just is often camouflaged. How? Well, I’ve done a lot of observation of animal behavior, which makes more sense of how people behave than most psyche theories. Look at it as a process of rewarding behaviors, passively or actively, or else punishing them, the same way: just as you can reward a horse for a bad behavior by ignoring it, thus encouraging him to yank the reins out of your hands again, and harder, or punish a horse for good behavior by ignoring it, by not praising her or patting her when she correctly executes a lead change, so too with humans. Just as you endorse your dog snapping and snatching when you don’t reprimand her consistently for it, and end up with a nasty biter, or discourage him from coming to your call by not being as enthuiastic and thrilled when he does it as he is, the same for children and young adults (or adult coworkers.)

You can kill the enthusiasm of your employees by paying attention only to your friends’ achievments, taking everyone else’s hard work for granted, and ignoring the office bullies and slackers.

And the same goes with human gender-specific behavior.

If you ignore a sexist sneer because you don’t want to be thought a bitch or humorless (or worse yet, gay or PC) or praise a male child’s success while ignoring the achievements of your daughter, then you have contributed to rampant sexism just as much as if you made the “cunt” comment yourself or told your daughter explicitly that she was fit for nothing more than bearing children and cleaning up after men.

48

bellatrys 12.18.04 at 12:16 pm

Afterthoughts – when MY made his rather offensive, assumption-riddled post, we had a long discussion on this on my blog, because it echoed discussions that used to happen all the time in fandom, particularly in Usenet days, but now mostly seems to happen when outsiders are talking about fandom – the “why are there almost no women sf writers/sf readers/gamers” followed by “I think it’s because of X (sexist assumption follows)” posts which used to start massive threads filled with various posters and lurkers revealing their gender and the fact that there was hardly the imbalance believed, and that the poster hadn’t realized that, say, CL Moore and James Tiptree were female, let alone counted how many current bestselling authors like CJ Cherryh and Elizabeth Moon were out there, and then the hapless fanboy would scuttle off daunted by Amazons, saying “but I still think that women don’t read Tolkien because they’re naturally nurturing and want to read about female characters not battles–“

So there was a certain sense of deja vu to it all, particularly when it became clear that MY was (like most young collegiate types) talking without having bothered to review the data in any detail.

Kieran however is approaching it with less of the pop-sci assumption quality and associated offensiveness, and so as a result there is more thoughtful dialogue and less snark (not that snark doesn’t have its place) in response.

Now, I was raised as a Theocon, and “feminist” was a dirty word where I grew up, in the world of conservative Catholic academia (yes, it exists, just below Ultima Thule) so my feminism and view of gender politics is something arrived at quite erratically and eclectically, often reinventing wheels, and with much resistance on my part. It’s only been about four years that I’ve fully accepted that I have been all along a crypto-liberal who was lied to about the non-biased and justice-based nature of conservativism.

Thus I never believed the “colonized minds/repressed women/double standard” arguments, for a long time, because after all I wasn’t told it was my duty to be selfless, giving, self-effacing, “not proud,” not selfish, but obedient and good all the time, *because* I was a girl, but because those were the proper norms for human beings, regardless of gender.

And yet – and yet – I was required to be responsible and giving and caring and never to be selfish or demand anything, and likewise my sisters – while my younger brothers were given far more leeway and less discipline, and the argument was made that “they were boys, boys need freedom,” or that boys didn’t have the natural inclination to order and domesticity thus it was futile, even though *I* certainly didn’t have the natural inclination to order and domesticity either, that’s what the fights were about, that I’d rather be watching ST:TNG and reading Bradbury than doing the dishes, too!

And so, facing up to this double standard, in how we were raised and increasingly encountering the dichotomy between the lofty, pedestal praise of womanhood (maternal or virginal) among intellectual Catholic conservatives, and the way that it actually played out, with us lucky bints “getting” all the noble opportunities for moral virtue and heroic self-sacrifice like having to stay home with six kids instead of going to a lecture with friends from work, which the paterfamilias “had” to do, poor sod — it started to wear pretty thin, that illusion of parity.

So yes, it is there, it just is often camouflaged. How? Well, I’ve done a lot of observation of animal behavior, which makes more sense of how people behave than most psyche theories. Look at it as a process of rewarding behaviors, passively or actively, or else punishing them, the same way: just as you can reward a horse for a bad behavior by ignoring it, thus encouraging him to yank the reins out of your hands again, and harder, or punish a horse for good behavior by ignoring it, by not praising her or patting her when she correctly executes a lead change, so too with humans. Just as you endorse your dog snapping and snatching when you don’t reprimand her consistently for it, and end up with a nasty biter, or discourage him from coming to your call by not being as enthuiastic and thrilled when he does it as he is, the same for children and young adults (or adult coworkers.)

You can kill the enthusiasm of your employees by paying attention only to your friends’ achievments, taking everyone else’s hard work for granted, and ignoring the office bullies and slackers.

And the same goes with human gender-specific behavior.

If you ignore a sexist sneer because you don’t want to be thought a bitch or humorless (or worse yet, gay or PC) or praise a male child’s success while ignoring the achievements of your daughter, then you have contributed to rampant sexism just as much as if you made the “cunt” comment yourself or told your daughter explicitly that she was fit for nothing more than bearing children and cleaning up after men.

So yes, I do think we, as a gender, have a problem with holding back and being diffident and waiting to be given permission and not wanting to offend – in “real life” I still have that problem, tho’ somewhat less these days – and that we have internalized these norms that we must be “good” and if only we are nice enough, then some prince will recognize it and reward it with a crown of glory…

(Newsflash: it ain’t gonna happen, you have to rescue yourself, you have to be the Mastermaid, not Cinderella. And yes, you will take flack for it, for being “unwomanly.” –Is it worse than being snubbed and stepped on? Only you can make that decision for yourself.)

49

JennyD 12.18.04 at 12:38 pm

Kieran, I agree it’s work to stay current on blogrolls. And it is easy to miss the “academic link policy” on the right sidebar.

So, I accept the opportunity and will email to Henry several women bloggers (and others too) who are scholars.

My biggest worry is not that I’m a woman and will get lousy comments; it’s whether I’ll ever get a job if somebody decides they don’t like my views.

50

Deb Frisch 12.18.04 at 1:29 pm

Kieran: Within the blogosphere, homophily may explain a lot. The tendency for like to associate with like, or for “similarity to breed connection” is a very general social process. Similarity on various dimensions might predict who you read and link to on your blog. With respect to gender, it might be that men are more likely to link to men and women to women, if only because (to begin with) you’re more likely to be acquainted with someone of the same sex as you.

Ah! Brilliant! Men are more likely to know other men and that’s why CT is all white boyz. Thanks for ‘splaining it, doc.

Yikes. I guess economics isn’t the only dismal science.

51

Andrew Boucher 12.18.04 at 3:01 pm

I’m still not sure if Kieran is a man or a woman, because I don’t know whether “Kieran” is a man or a woman’s name. For the longest time I assumed Kieran was a woman, but I guess now it’s clear he’s a man, even if, before writing this post, I found myself googling to doublecheck.

Anyway, on the internet, who cares?

If someone really needs to know the background of the person writing an argument on political or social issues, my guess is that they are not really trying to evaluate the argument.

52

Anthony 12.18.04 at 3:59 pm

Beg pardon, Deb? Saying that homophily “may explain a lot” about the gender gap in the blog world doesn’t sound too dismal to me. At least, not if you don’t, as Kieran definitely doesn’t, take that explanation to mean that you should therefore do nothing about it, as it’s a regular social phenomenon. I’m guessing that your use of “dismal” means something like this, that Kieran is saying this is simply the way things are and they can’t be any different. Correct me if I’ve misread you, but Kieran’s analysis didn’t strike at all as dismal in that way.

53

rosalind 12.18.04 at 4:05 pm

I think Katherine’s comment above hits on something important. I’d like to reiterate her observation about women’s interest in politics, particularly in response to Ophelia’s concern: that women are, on average, uninterested in politics, because they’re too busy planning their weddings or something, seems entirely wrong to me. (Does that honestly ring true to your personal experience, Ophelia? Because then, maybe you just need to get out more. There are lots of cool chicks out there.) It becomes very difficult to speculate about such things without sounding essentialist and flaky, but to the extent that there are forces of socialization that cause women to be more hesitant about public speaking than men are, it makes sense to me that the same forces might play a role in disparate blogging numbers.

I can’t be dismissive of homophily as an explanation, either, because I’ve had it invoked to me by various male peers to explain why they respond more to comments made by other men in class, etc. It does strike me as a deeply weird thing, though, so I understand the skepticism about it in this thread.

Ugh. At this point I should admit that a large part of the reason I’m posting this late in the thread, mostly to say, “I agree with Katherine” is that discussions like this always elicit a kneejerk identitarian response in me. I’m a girl! And I like politics! And I don’t think Crooked Timber is nefariously sexist in some way! It’s ridiculous and I’m not proud of it (and frankly, I’m still irritated at Deb Frisch for provoking such an identitarian discussion.)

54

rosalind 12.18.04 at 4:06 pm

I think Katherine’s comment above hits on something important. I’d like to reiterate her observation about women’s interest in politics, particularly in response to Ophelia’s concern: that women are, on average, uninterested in politics, because they’re too busy planning their weddings or something, seems entirely wrong to me. (Does that honestly ring true to your personal experience, Ophelia? Because then, maybe you just need to get out more. There are lots of cool chicks out there.) It becomes very difficult to speculate about such things without sounding essentialist and flaky, but to the extent that there are forces of socialization that cause women to be more hesitant about public speaking than men are, it makes sense to me that the same forces might play a role in disparate blogging numbers.

I can’t be dismissive of homophily as an explanation, either, because I’ve had it invoked to me by various male peers to explain why they respond more to comments made by other men in class, etc. It does strike me as a deeply weird thing, though, so I understand the skepticism about it in this thread.

Ugh. At this point I should admit that a large part of the reason I’m posting this late in the thread, mostly to say, “I agree with Katherine” is that discussions like this always elicit a kneejerk identitarian response in me. I’m a girl! And I like politics! And I don’t think Crooked Timber is nefariously sexist in some way! It’s ridiculous and I’m not proud of it (and frankly, I’m still irritated at Deb Frisch for provoking such an identitarian discussion.)

55

Bill Gardner 12.18.04 at 5:10 pm

Dan K said:

“I think there is a competitive, sporting aspect to a lot of blogging that needs to be mentioned. When I sit down at my computer, if I am interested in reading a thoughtful and patiently argued essay, I will go to an online magazine or journal. If I’m in the mood to get into a good argument, I visit a blog.

The men I know tend to like to argue, especialy about politics. Fewer of the women I know enjoy the arguing…. personally, I most enjoy writing an argumentative essay where I rip another guy’s argument to shreds. And if he rips my argument to shreds before I go to bed, I sometimes can’t wait to get up in the morning so I can return the favor.”

I’m glad Dan enjoys this, and I bet that hot arguments attract blog readers. However, at ‘Maternal & Child Health’ I am hoping we can do things differently. Come to think of it, however, I’m not exactly wearing my testosterone on my sleeve with that title…

56

Biscuit 12.18.04 at 5:11 pm

Laura writes

I’ve read a lot of crappy (heh) wonky blogs. They clip stuff here and there and just add an “ayup.” Sorry, not a lot of interesting thought going on there. I don’t really feel like it would be a huge boon for society to see more women doing that stuff.

I do a lot of clipping on The Biscuit Report. And I don’t always have important thoughts of my own to add to what I’ve read elsewhere. And sometimes I quote very extensively from what I’m linking to. If you subscribe to a lot of the feeds that I do, and if you read widely on the web in general, this might seem boring and unnecessary to you. But I think most of my (not very many) readers don’t subscribe to feeds, don’t read 20 blogs a day, and probably won’t click through to read the stuff I link to. They’re people who know me personally, or are one or two degrees away from knowing me personally, and if it were not for Biscuit they wouldn’t know about the a lot of the things going on in the wider internet community, a lot of the news that is not reported in mainstream media, the political conversations that are happening now.

So as I wrote in my previous comment, there IS some point to being on the edge of the blogosphere, some benefit to not rushing into the middle crying “me me me”, but serving instead as a conduit, translator, interpreter for a microcommunity of people who might otherwise not be connected at all.

So yes, I think there is a point to clip-and-yupper blogs. I try not to be entirely a clip-and-yupper blog, but even on days when that’s all I post, I think it’s worthwhile to do it.

57

Bill Gardner 12.18.04 at 5:14 pm

Moreover, despite the title and subject matter of the ‘Maternal & Child Health’ blog, most of the commenters so far have been male. I hope it’s just a small *N* problem…

58

Ophelia Benson 12.18.04 at 5:27 pm

“I think Katherine’s comment above hits on something important. I’d like to reiterate her observation about women’s interest in politics, particularly in response to Ophelia’s concern: that women are, on average, uninterested in politics, because they’re too busy planning their weddings or something, seems entirely wrong to me. (Does that honestly ring true to your personal experience, Ophelia? Because then, maybe you just need to get out more. There are lots of cool chicks out there.)”

I know, and I hate cool chicks, which is why I get out less.

Anyway – that’s not really what I was saying. But I wasn’t all that clear about what I was saying…partly because I’m not that clear about it myself. I fret about the possibility (that there are fewer women interested in CT-type subjects than there are men, so there is a smaller pool to recruit from) as opposed to thinking it’s really a fact. One bit of evidence that it may be a fact is that both women and men seem to take it for granted that the work/family divide is a female subject rather than a male subject, a female hindrance-to-blogging and not a male hindrance-to-blogging. That assumption tends (it seems to me, but I could easily be wrong) to reinforce the idea that women are required to be interested in the subject, while men are not. That in turn tends (same stipulation) to reinforce the idea that women are more interested in personal musings and stories of Domestic Life than men are. That could, conceivably, be an unconscious background reason why more women don’t appear on CT’s roster. Or not.

59

Dan Kervick 12.18.04 at 5:41 pm

Bill,

I also try to do things differently. On my own blog, I tend to write longish essays, shorter informative pieces chock full of links to essays, articles or news stories I’ve been reading on a certain topic, discussion of books I have been reading, along with some framing and commentary.

I intentionally restrain myself from linking to other blogs, except those that that contain particularly thoughtful material, and stay out of the many inter-blog food fights, gossipy frivolity, and hot pursuit of breaking news stories. Thus I am not particularly “plugged in” to the blog world, and that’s the way I like it. If there is something I would like a lot of people to read, I try to generate some interest by leaving a link in comments sections of other blogs, or submitting the essay to other sites, but I’m not particularly aggressive about this.

But the highly interconnected fusion of blogs known as the “blogosphere,” with the most visited blogs at the top of the food chain, does seem to be driven a good deal by competition and argument, and sometimes vicious attacks and counterattacks. There is a struggle for dominance of some kind, and a large mass of readers that flows like a mob from one site to the next.

Sometimes I’m in the mood for a good strenuous argument, and for mixing it up, or have an overpowering urge to try to forcibly insert my voice into a large national or international conversation, and I participate in the debates in the comments sections of popular political blogs for that purpose. But I try to keep my own blog out of this raucus internet saloon, and maitain a quiet corner for myself and a few readers.

60

Ded Fisch 12.18.04 at 5:47 pm

How many female bloggers does it take to change a light bulb?

61

Deb Frisch 12.18.04 at 5:49 pm

Hey! That isn’t funny!

62

Nabakov 12.18.04 at 6:01 pm

Damn, Deb beat me to the punchline.

How many male bloggers does it take to change a lightbulb?

Already done it. Check the timestamp. Where have you been?

63

bellatrys 12.18.04 at 6:03 pm

Argh, evil twin post. And I even checked in a new window after I got the “internal server error” message before reposting.

–Deb, why are you pulling this classic passive-aggressive behavior? Do you have your own blog? Yes. Did you promote it by saying, “as I said in my post X here” – No. Did you start out by asking CT to carry you as a guest columnist and were refused? No, you’re behaving in a disfunctional way stereotypical of women, tho’ all too common among men – sulking while feeling snubbed, and then snapping and making it out to be a persecution and you a martyr on behalf of your gender. Not an impressive showing for the sex, old gel–

–Actually bill, I personally find that male bloggers tend to be *less* given to rousing arguments than female – but then, that may just be the circles I hang out with! Certainly I get enough male posters telling me I’m too mean, too caustic, not nice enough, at least as many as female ones. And I find the commentless, dispassionate tone of many blogs by male academics, or the commentless, snarky-but-not-interactive ones of other male academics, to be completely boring.

Of course the fun liberal blogs, like World O’Crap and aligned eccentrics – does anyone *really* know what the gender of the Fafbloggers are? – like Sadly No! and Adam Felber, don’t agonize over identity politics, having *way* too much fun tearing the ears off sexist wingers of both genders with ambivalent glee.

64

Roxanne 12.18.04 at 7:10 pm

Sorry I’m so late to the discussion here. I’ve been busy baking christmas cookies all day. Besides that, I never read CT, don’t link to it, etc. But, I digress …

I some questions.

Why is it you fellas never ask where all the African-American political bloggers are? Or the Latino political bloggers? Or the gay political bloggers? Or the disabled political bloggers?

As for women promoting themselves better, I say we start blogging, “Where are all the women bloggers?” Seems to be quite a traffic generator.

65

Jon H 12.18.04 at 10:54 pm

One small data point: an acquaintance of mine, a smart woman with a Master’s degree in women’s studies, who’s pursuing a career in social work, and has been politically active (with the Green party) doesn’t have a CT-style blog, but has an online diary.

The content is very girly/personal/gossipy. Shopping, clothes, boys, etc. No particular intellectual content. Kinda disappointing, actually.

The point being, it’s unlikely anyone reading her diary would invite her to participate in a group blog like CT, and there’s not much evidence she’d have any interest in doing so, even though it might seem like she’d have something to say.

What’s the gender breakdown of LiveJournal sites, or bloglike diary sites?

Rather than saying “women blog less”, perhaps we should be looking at what they are, in fact, doing online.

66

Ophelia Benson 12.18.04 at 11:09 pm

“The content is very girly/personal/gossipy. Shopping, clothes, boys, etc. No particular intellectual content. Kinda disappointing, actually.

The point being, it’s unlikely anyone reading her diary would invite her to participate in a group blog like CT…”

This is exactly what I’m saying. I’m not saying that no women do the kind of thing that blogs like CT do – but if (if, I say if) a higher proportion of women do girly-gossip, then that means there is a smaller pool to choose from. Women self-deselect, as it were. If that’s true (and I really don’t know if it is or not, I’m not saying it is true, I’m only saying I’m afraid it may be, and that the possibility gets me down), then it’s obviously not just a boy’s club thing.

67

lazyman 12.18.04 at 11:54 pm

Whether or not Kieran Healy’s homophily-based explanation is correct with respect to the particular case of this blog, or of “the blogosphere” in general, it seems a tad presumptuous to offer the thesis — although I’m not sure that it’s being offered by anybody, the tone of certain comments certainly tends to suggest it’s being offered — that there’s something about the atmosphere at CT or the CT ‘management’ that actively discourages blogging by women.

It might be that there’s an explanation that works in the general case, but it just turns out that, in the case of this or that blog, that something else is the correct story. It could turn out that the particular bloggers at CT that happen to be male just happen, as a group, to make more posts than the particular bloggers at CT that happen to be female). That a sample generally comports with a general trend does not in and of itself establish that the reason the sample comports with the trend admits of the same explanation as the general trend.

And of course, it might be a whole swack of different explanations that hold sway in different regions of the blogosphere, that there is no single general explanation of the trend. Assuming, of course, that it is a trend.

Just sayin’.

68

Bill Gardner 12.19.04 at 12:11 am

Bellatrys — thanks for the response, and thanks for the comment at Maternal & Child Health. You like “rousing” arguments. There is a fascinating discussion to have, sometime, about when and how emotional arousal aids thought. My view is that I want to put my social policy views forward in a way that is clear and uncompromising, but depolarizing. I live in a Red State.

69

Jimmy Ho 12.19.04 at 12:31 am

Roxanne:
Why is it you fellas never ask where all the African-American political bloggers are? Or the Latino political bloggers? Or the gay political bloggers? Or the disabled political bloggers?

Time to remind that excellent post by Antigone over at XX (I assume you already know this Feminist Women groupblog).

Of course, Kieran was talking about women scholar bloggers, but that really doesn’t change much. Not to be judgemental or anything (how could I, in my position?), but, as far as I can tell, the mentality at work is just the same.

70

cloquet 12.19.04 at 12:38 am

Homophilous, what an interesting word! Isn’t that some kind of very smelly kind of mold?

71

Jimmy Ho 12.19.04 at 12:47 am

Since I’m mentioning XX, Ophelia Payne sums it up rather concisely in the latest entry.

72

hilzoy 12.19.04 at 1:05 am

I have no idea why there aren’t more women bloggers. However, I would like to echo the point about pseudonyms. I have been taken for a guy more times than I can count, but I can recall only one time when someone assumed (correctly) that I’m a woman, and that was because he (also correctly) figured that ‘hilzoy’ must be a bizarre version of Hilary.

The idea that women are not interested in politics or ideas is, um, not born out by my experience. I suspect that part of the reason more women don’t blog is that blogging makes it almost inevitable that one will have to spend time dealing with a certain version of obnoxiousness: the kind that’s typically the province of very smart, very aggressive adolescent guys who haven’t yet learned that glibness is not everything. In my experience, men find this more tolerable than women. I don’t mind it much, though it is a little tiresome, but I know lots of thoughtful women who have spent time and effort arranging their lives so as to avoid having to have these annoying arguments, and might think twice before deliberately taking up an activity that undid all that hard work.

73

Walt Pohl 12.19.04 at 1:31 am

What I find odd about this discussion is the complete absence of any reference to _power_. It’s a really big internet, so the lack of gender balance on a randomly chosen site is just not that significant. The mere existence of Crooked Timber does not in any way prevent women from starting blogs. Unlike a university or a corporation it has no actual power.

74

aj 12.19.04 at 1:43 am

Well, I guess it’s too late for anybody to still be reading, but shouldn’t the question really be rephrased more along the lines of: Why is it that academic bloggers _whose blogs could potentially go into CV’s_ are more likely to be men than women? (Here, I think the numbers probably do support this claim; I’m not sure there really is such a huge disparity when you look at academics who blog in general.)

Because, to add to the point about pseudonymity, there are many woman academics with blogs, and their blogs do cover things like: politics, job market/hiring practices, publications, pedagogy (undergrad and grad), etc. But because many of these blogs are pseudonymous, they can’t really show up in CV’s – unlike Crooked Timber.

On the flip side, pseudonymity has its advantages: I have yet to read an interesting post or discussion of relations between grad students and advisers, for example, on a blog written by someone using a real name. And it remains to be seen whether anyone, pseudonymous or not, can match the consistent high-quality of the Invisible Adjunct.

75

Ophelia Benson 12.19.04 at 1:44 am

“Since I’m mentioning XX, Ophelia Payne sums it up rather concisely in the latest entry.”

Who? Who? Who? Are you telling me there’s another one…?

76

Lily Tomlin 12.19.04 at 1:53 am

My h my, wht fscntng thrd. t crtnly s ttltng t rd Krn’s bsts pntfctns bt hmphly.

nthny, thnk Db’s pnt ws tht K’s clm tht th rsn th blgsphr s dmntd by bys s tht bys r mr lkly t knw bys thn grls ws slly nd mplsbl, dspt bng drssd p n prvctv wrd.

Bt spkng f hmphly nd pckng p n smn’s pnt tht ths typ f cnvrstn s lk dl, bttl, tc. thnk K mght b nt smthng.

My tw cnts: Blggng s cmbntn f mntl mstrbtn nd mtphrcl jstng. Gvn tht mn lk t jck ff mr thn wmn lk t jll ff nd wmn lk t fght nd wtch thrs fght mr thn wmn d, t mks sns tht mn lk blggng mr thn wmn d.

thnk tht mst mn, rgrdlss f th gndr thy lk t hmp, lk t jst wth thr mn. Hnc, thr’s tny, tny grn f trth n K’s d f hmphly – thr’s smthng hmrtc bt gys mtphrclly dkng t t wth thr gys hr n cybrspc.

Mst chps dn’t lk jstng wth brds – t mks thm nrvs.

rlz ‘m nly n bscr cmdnn, bt thnk th sshl wh pstd cmmnt by dd fsch nd thn db frsch ws mprsntng th rl df. knw krn nd thrs thnk tht wmn r mr lkly t pst psdnymsly, bt thnk th sshl wh mprsntd db ws ml.

Hw pthtc tht krn ddn’t cll ths mthrfckr n hs hrrbl bhvr.

77

Jon H 12.19.04 at 2:15 am

Another thought:

Blogging isn’t really a discussion, it’s more like a lecture with optional Q&A at the end. It’s less of a conversational model than, say, Usenet or mailing lists.

Maybe, just maybe, when it comes to discussing academics or politics, many women prefer a more conversational mode to the lecture mode of blogging.

If there’s a preference among (some/many) women for diary-style blogging, it would kinda fit this, because writing in a diary isn’t a conversational mode, either, and they aren’t seeking a dialogue.

Perhaps males (often) like to pursue dialogue via blogs, whereas women (often) prefer other media for dialogue.

78

aj 12.19.04 at 2:28 am

There’s plenty of dialogue within and among many of the blogs by female academics that I’ve read.

79

Jon H 12.19.04 at 2:49 am

“There’s plenty of dialogue within and among many of the blogs by female academics that I’ve read.”

Well, yes, of course, but it’s qualitatively different than dialogue in a usenet group or a mailing list. At least, it seems that way to me.

You have a blog post, and perhaps comments to the post. But the blog post and the comments don’t really have the same status.

Responses posted on other blogs have the same status, in this sense, they’re peers, but they’re somewhat disconnected from the post they are responding to. They’re like an article in a journal which responds to an article in the prior issue.

On usenet and mailing lists, on the other hand, all postings are equal, and IMHO there’s more immediacy. It’s a closer approximation to a vocal conversation.

Maybe it doesn’t make a difference, maybe it does.

It would be useful to look at the gender balance of blog commenters, rather than just at the people who have had sufficient interest and initiative to set up their own blogs. See how that compares to the numbers for full bloggers.

80

jonk 12.19.04 at 3:59 am

Kieran writes: “Even so, I do think that if we’d been a little more on the ball earlier on — before we maxed-out the roster” – I can’t believe someone else hasn’t commented on this yet, is this supposed to be an excuse for there not being more women on CT – “we maxed-out the roster”?

As Roxanne rightly points out, what about other representations?

81

Kieran Healy 12.19.04 at 4:06 am

I can’t believe someone else hasn’t commented on this yet, is this supposed to be an excuse for there not being more women on CT – “we maxed-out the roster”?

No. I was explaining that CT grew more quickly than any of us expected and in ways we didn’t deliberately plan for. If we’d known where we were going to end up, we might have done things differently. As it was, by the time we got to 15 regulars last March we decided that things were threatening to get out of hand and we should stop adding new people.

82

novalis 12.19.04 at 6:23 am

jon h, LJ is about 2/3 female among those who reveal their gender (about 80%)

83

Kevin Hayden 12.19.04 at 1:14 pm

Not given to a source-search at the moment, I distinctly recall reading in the past week that the majority of bloggers are women. As I read this on the internet, it’s obviously true.

Beyond that, I’m sure at an earlier, clear-headed hour, I could name dozens of female academics who blog, roughly equivalent to the number of male academics I’m aware of.

I think there’s quite a few in both genders who don’t publicize their academic status, too, possibly indicating a preference not to bring the work world home, or into their avocational world.

With the explosion of blogs that’s occurred in the last year alone, though, I doubt that anyone short of a professional pollster could come close to the truth about the gender ratio, so a lot of what I’m hearing here seem to be conclusions drawn on hypotheses that are likely to be false.

When I first read Deb’s questions and followed the thread, I took it as a semi-serious question coupled with good-natured nose-tweakings. It seems to have devolved from there a bit (or my perceptions have evolved) and I’ll add a note in defense of the group blogging process in general.

As was pointed out, group blogs often go through a growth process that can differ for many reasons. One group may evolve from online individual bloggers grown chummy over time (I suspect that’s the CT genealogy), others may involve active recruiting among a limited number of blogs within a topic area, and others may have a conscious ‘mastermind’ actively recruiting affirmatively … or not.

And that’s just where the fun begins. Many group blogs include folks blogging at their own blogs, which can turn a burdensome hobby into real work. The resulting attrition rate pays no attention to desired quotas, either, so the aim going in can evolve to something quite different.

I do think it adds to any neighborhood to pursue some degree of diversity, for the sake of fresh perspective. I don’t buy into some of the claims I’ve heard here, like men being generally more competitive anywhere, with the exception of recreational games.

I can’t think of any work environment where that’s been evident. I mean, I can recall some obsessively competitive fellows, but they were the exception, not the rule. And even among that minority, I found that some had the tools to compete with, but most were simply narcissistic boors.

Similarly, I don’t see a high degree of women bloggers blogging about kids and domestic matters except among those where their principal daily activity is homemaking, or when they can find great amusement that can be passed on anecdotally (a la Erma Bombeck… or the blogger known as Happy Funball at Uncommon-tater).

Surely, some gender distinctions are likely to exist (I know way more women obsessed with shoes for example, than men are. And men don’t generally get ga-ga about baby clothing unless it involves something hideous for head adornment.) Some men prefer to keep the company of men in their idle time, and some are as likely to enjoy goofing off with women.

If a group blogger aims for community and camaraderie, the blog will evolve towards that pursuit. If the greater goal is a full exploration of more lofty thoughts, it can likely find it enhancing to pursue a diversity of perspectives. So the bottom line isn’t what a commenter wants, but what a team is comfortable providing.

84

bellatrys 12.19.04 at 1:24 pm

Bill, I think it’s more the way I was raised than anything else – despite certain sexist assumptions and pressures at home, when it came to philosophical argument, everybody was expected in our circle to leap in and wrangle, and the idea that women should be “peacemakers” and avoid “threatening” the men was scoffed at.

This leads, in my experience, to the boggling-to-outsiders phenomenon of seriously kick-ass conservative Catholic women who then turn around and ferociously argue the value of patriarch and the submission of women to cowed, startled liberal males…

It also leads to a certain amount of surprise on my part at how quickly and easily some in the political blogosphere get cowed and/or snitty over a contradiction (tho’ this is also partly due to the knock-down-drag-out atmosphere of fandom multilogues such as GAFF…no one who’s been in a fanfic community should *ever* make the mistake of thinking that XX is naturally more “nurturing” and less abrasive than XY!)

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Kevin Hayden 12.19.04 at 1:33 pm

Geeze, guess I should have read your entire post before that last comment. Homophily, is it? Okay, that defines a fair amount of what I said.

But in the academic world, isn’t there a concern about homophilies recruiting?

86

Rivka 12.19.04 at 2:59 pm

As someone above has already pointed out, as a serious academic/political blogger I am often mistaken for a man. At one point, it became clear that even many of my regulars thought I was male – hopefully, now that I’ve made a couple of posts referring to my pregnancy, that constituency is down to clueless strangers alone.

I don’t want to re-hash all the comments of others, but I do want to make a couple of points:

- Those commenters pointing out that surely male bloggers also have family responsibilities are precisely missing the point. Large, well-constructed studies consistently demonstrate that women do more housework and childcare than men, and that men have more free time – something on the order of 20 hours per week of additional free time, for men with full-time jobs vs. women with full-time jobs. There’s a gender gap in home-related work, which leads directly to a gender gap in the time men and women have to engage in hobbies like blogging. And that gap probably exists regardless of whether women are more “interested” or “drawn” to housework – someone’s got to do it, after all.

- Most of the political women I know online mix incisive commentary on political or academic issues with diary-like commentary about their personal lives. They don’t seem interested in maintaining a pure separation between the personal and the political. That looks a lot less like a “blog” than traditional politics-only commentary, and it’s less likely to wind up on blogrolls – which means that many men tend to miss out on these women’s brilliant political analyses.

One last thing: Hilzoy wrote: blogging makes it almost inevitable that one will have to spend time dealing with a certain version of obnoxiousness: the kind that’s typically the province of very smart, very aggressive adolescent guys who haven’t yet learned that glibness is not everything.

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. I have often remarked that blogging sometimes makes me feel like I’m back in my freshman dorm in college. I guess that’s an index of how successfully I’ve been able to avoid that type of person and argument since.

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CKR/WV 12.19.04 at 3:12 pm

Sorry to be late to this discussion, but I hardly ever read Crooked Timber. Too academic. I was directed here by a friend.

DEMAND FOR ATTENTION AND REWARDS: WhirledView comments on world politics and most everything else.

We are three WOMEN with lots of experience around the world. (Now tell the truth, how many of you, men and women, sniggered lightly at that? Never would have happened to men. One reason women don’t come to these discussions easily.)

We do not consider ourselves academic, although we all have various degrees of connection to the academic world. Frankly, we don’t want to limit ourselves in the ways that academia too often requires.

The arguments above, mostly essentialist, mostly coming from men, seem absurd to me. They’ve been running in these circles since the sixties and perhaps longer. And at that time, we all were assured that all this would be cleared up as more women got into the academic pipeline. Ha.

I’ve had to put up with various ignorings and putdowns simply because I’m a woman. I’ve done the argumentative thing on a discussion board. (Men really do have a hard time losing to a woman.) I’ve gotten to a point where I can choose to ignore all that and do a blog with people whose intellect I respect.

Check us out.

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Susan Nunes 12.19.04 at 6:10 pm

The question of there not being “more” female bloggers tells me that the person who asks the question doesn’t get out and read enough blogs beyond those with the name recognition, most of the latter not even being that good.

Perhaps women don’t blog more is that they don’t have more spare time from their jobs to do it on a consistent basis, or else they are more sensitive to the fact that posting on the job is time theft.

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R J Keefe 12.19.04 at 7:49 pm

Phew! What a magnificent collection of tangents! (If you have
read through this far, take a break!)

The discovery that CT is an "academic" blog has taken me
completely by surprise. That the contributors to CT are academic professionals I
knew, and it followed that matters of interest to academic professionals would
appear in CT, and probably in an academic tone. But to learn that the
contributors post entries on CT they do so qua academic professionals,
and with other academic professionals in mind is oddly chilling. I don’t say
that it’s a mistake. But I should have thought that the primary appeal of a
collaborative Web log of CT’s caliber – the appeal to its contributors, that is
– would have been the opportunity to relax déformations professionelles.

I nearly stopped at Biscuit’s posting. Her call for "private
intellectuals" is terrifically important. And I praise Ophelia Benson for
admitting that she’s not sure how she feels about this matter, from the very
asking of the question on down. I’ll be mulling over Dan Kervick’s two posts for
quite some time, and possibly even quoting them, because I’m bemused by the
duality of the "thoughtful guy" who likes to "mix it up."

As to Kieran’s question, I suspect that established academic
women, who will not have had blogging as a resource during their training, might
tend to regard the blogosphere with suspicion: just another one of the boys’ new
toys, and a spectacular way to get into trouble. New as it is, the
Blogosphere already requires its own Baedeker.

90

Kieran Healy 12.19.04 at 9:52 pm

But to learn that the contributors post entries on CT they do so qua academic professionals, and with other academic professionals in mind is oddly chilling.

Oh, come off it. It’s perfectly clear what “academic blogger” means.

91

Jude Nagurney Camwell 12.20.04 at 1:11 am

I’m certainly interested in politics. I’ve written about them for two years at Iddybud. I also wax political (blog-style) at the Syracuse newspaper website, Syracuse.com. The real question should be: Why aren’t more women recognized for their political blogging?

Here are some of the women of blogging.

92

bitchphd 12.20.04 at 1:14 am

Kieran, I think the point a lot of people are making is that it *isn’t* so perfectly clear. I consider my blog academic–though it isn’t counted in your sample, b/c it’s pseudonymous. Why is pseudonymity not academic? Most of the blogs I read and comment on most regularly are both academic and pseudonymous–I enjoy them precisely because their definition of “academic” is broader than what I think you mean, which is either “subject-specific” or “research-oriented.” Academic life, however, is fairly broad. I don’t post on my research, b/c I don’t want my departmental colleagues to recognize me, since I’m thinking of leaving my job. But I post a lot about teaching. Is that not academic? Are doubts about the current state of academia or the job market not part of academe? Is the particular pace and structure of academic life, including daily domestic details and things like how one balances one’s weird job with one’s partner’s work schedule, not academic concerns?

It seems kind of circular to say that women don’t blog academically, and then to dismiss women who question what, precisely, is meant by “academic” by deliberately excluding a lot of things that women bloggers are saying do count as academic concerns.

93

Kieran Healy 12.20.04 at 1:54 am

Argh. This is getting a bit frustrating.

I consider my blog academic—though it isn’t counted in your sample, b/c it’s pseudonymous. Why is pseudonymity not academic?

Whoever said it wasn’t? Your blog *is* “in our sample” because it’s on our academic blogroll. It wasn’t coded for gender in Henry’s quick survey because he was trying to count how many people on that list were women, and having a pseudonymous blog — even one called ‘bitch, phd’ — meant he was better off not counting it one way or the other for the purpose at hand. Where in that process is there the assumption that pseudonymous blogs aren’t academic?

I enjoy them precisely because their definition of “academic” is broader than what I think you mean, which is either “subject-specific” or “research-oriented.” … I enjoy them precisely because their definition of “academic” is broader than what I think you mean, which is either “subject-specific” or “research-oriented.” … It seems kind of circular to say that women don’t blog academically, and then to dismiss women who question what, precisely, is meant by “academic” …

Look, I completely agree, and so does “our academic link policy”:http://www.crookedtimber.org/archives/000273.html. It says, in part,

bq. The qualifications are fairly straightforward. First, if you either have an academic position at a university type institution, or are a Ph.D. student or equivalent … Second, if you have a Ph.D., but are pursuing another career … and keep a blog that sort-of relates to your field of specialization, … Third, if you don’t qualify under the formal criteria, but think that you provide a venue for specialized academic discussion

*Of course* people who write about teaching, or harbor doubts about the state of academia or question what academics are supposed to be doing will — and do — qualify for inclusion on the blogroll. That stuff is about 80% of what academics chatter about. We write about that stuff ourselves all the time! Look at Harry’s last post or Eszter’s last post or _this_ post, for crying out loud. And we don’t care whether you’re anonymous, either. Do you think we wouldn’t have counted Invisible Adjunct as an academic blog?

I honestly don’t see how you think I deserve your complaint on the basis of the content of the post or the makeup of our academic blogroll.

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bitchphd 12.20.04 at 2:23 am

I wasn’t complaining about your blogroll, or defending my blog status in any way; I didn’t think you attacked my blog status. I was talking about the debate at hand. If you leave a large section of blogs out of your sample and then make generalizations, it’s reasonable to point out that your sample is skewed. And if you say that everyone knows what academic means, when part of the going debate has been, “how is academic defined?” then pointing out that defining academic isn’t, in fact, easy is also valid.

The fact is, there are a ton of women academic bloggers and a ton of women political bloggers. It’s just that when the boys ask this question every few months, they define “academic” and “political” in ways that are highly exclusive. For one thing, feminism never seems to count as “political.” For another thing, men asking this question always seem to assume that they are the default; that what counts as political/academic *to them* is universal (which I detected in the post to which I was responding). My point is merely that, if you reframe the question as if women are central, then the question completely disappears.

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eszter 12.20.04 at 4:06 am

If you are a regular reader of this blog, I don’t see how you can accuse people like Kieran of never framing questions in ways that are relevant to women and a feminist perspective. (And when you say “feminism never seems to count as “political.” – count where and for what?)

Several Timberites – regardless of their gender – have addressed questions such as work/family responsibilities among heterosexual couples, childrearing, representation of women in various professions, etc. These questions are taken just as seriously as other issues discussed on this blog.. and they are issues that have shown up here throughout the life of this blog.

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bitchphd 12.20.04 at 5:02 am

I accused no one. I’m merely pointing out that “where are the women” is a silly question.

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jholbo 12.20.04 at 6:54 am

Bitchphd, you say you accuse no one but it seems you think you have a pretty serious complaint against CT. You seem to be complaining, specifically, that Kieran – or CT in general – understands ‘academic’ and/or ‘academic blog’ in some unduly narrow way. But the things you cite as being outside our allegedly unduly narrow compass are – so far as I can tell – clearly within our compass. Neither CT post contents nor its blogroll (which are two different things, mind you) demand that ‘academic’ be understood except with wooliest generosity. For that matter, most posts can be read and understood without any particular conception of ‘academic’ in mind at all. (And I take it the rules for getting into the blogroll are clear and inclusive enough?)

Can you point to any concrete example of us excluding someone or something, let alone a class of someones or somethings, as non-academic, which you would consider broadly academic? Many of the posts on CT are totally non-academic, and posters aren’t kicked off the roster. We don’t police the blogroll against bloggers engaged in extra-curricular activities. You allege exclusive, blinkered attitudes but provide no evidence of exclusions or blinkers.

You write:

It’s just that when the boys ask this question every few months, they define “academic” and “political” in ways that are highly exclusive. For one thing, feminism never seems to count as “political.” For another thing, men asking this question always seem to assume that they are the default; that what counts as political/academic to them is universal (which I detected in the post to which I was responding).

I find this implausible, but this ought to be the sort of issue that can be settled in an agreeable way. Please provide evidence of these bi-monthly exclusions; also, evidence that feminism is denied by CT’ers to be a sort of political attitude or position (what, then, would it be?) Also, where is the default maleness in the post?

Also, what do you mean ‘where are the women?’ is a silly question. If it is silly, doesn’t it follow that your concerns about exclusion are silly? But you don’t seem to think they are silly. Please explain.

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bitchphd 12.20.04 at 5:05 pm

I’m too lazy to do your research for you, jholbo. But if you explore around the blogs of a lot of the women posting on this thread, you’ll see them talking about this issue, and you’ll find links (there’s one in here, I forget whose comment it is, though, but it’s to the blog XX) to posts in response to this very same question coming up before.

My comments were intended to be taken in that larger context.

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bitchphd 12.20.04 at 5:06 pm

I’m too lazy to do your research for you, jholbo. But if you explore around the blogs of a lot of the women posting on this thread, you’ll see them talking about this issue, and you’ll find links (there’s one in here, I forget whose comment it is, though, but it’s to the blog XX) to posts in response to this very same question coming up before.

My comments were intended to be taken in that larger context.

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bitchphd 12.20.04 at 5:10 pm

Sorry re. double post. The thingy told me the comment hadn’t posted the first time. Obviously, it lied.

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Lauren 12.20.04 at 5:11 pm

Please provide evidence of these bi-monthly exclusions; also, evidence that feminism is denied by CT’ers to be a sort of political attitude or position (what, then, would it be?)

jholbo, allow me. Bitch PhD is speaking more generally than CT alone. The “where are the women” discussion occurs about every three months (no kidding), and has been asked by Pandagon, Yglesias, Kevin Drum, and others. It’s frustrating because once the question is asked and the female bloggers have turned out to answer that we are indeed here, the question is cast aside, the blogrolls and interlinking don’t change, and no resolution is made on any level other than occasionally finding an unexpected ally here and there.

One “academic” study on blogging addressed political blogs as those who addressed politics only, and the philosophy of personal politics was left out of that equation, effectively rendering most feminist bloggers out there apolitical and obsolete. So, as you asked, if feminism isn’t political, what is it? According to these kinds of studies (which end up being largely masturbatory and reify the maleness of the blogosphere [hate that word]) feminism doesn’t exist other than a branch of liberal politics so tertiary that it is nearly ignored altogether.

And with these frustrations, you get the otherwise unexplainable tension on this thread.

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Lauren 12.20.04 at 5:17 pm

those who addressed politics only

Let me clarify myself: “politics only” means presidential, election, and policy politics. Everything else was dumped. They measured judging only by the posts available on the front page of the blog and I’m sure we can agree that method amounts to a poor qualitative study.

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Pollie Anon 12.20.04 at 9:02 pm

Wow, love the rigourous research methodology. Bitch PhD and Lauren say a certain peheomenon occurs regularly. But when bitch is asked by jholbo to give a few examples, she bitchily tells him she won’t do his research for him. Well, guess she didn’t get that name for nothing.

Then Lauren chimes in to say that Bitch is right on, happens all the time, but again no links and/or examples just a lot of straw man punching.

Gals, no links, no examples = no credibility.

Call me Bitch MA.

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Clancy 12.20.04 at 9:54 pm

Hey, pollie anon (and jholbo), here are some posts from June 2004 that serve as examples of what bitchphd and Lauren are talking about. The posts have plenty links and trackbacks you can follow, some of which reference a previous conversation about gender and blogging from March 2004.

Trish Wilson

feministe, 2 June

feministe, 4 June

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clancy 12.20.04 at 9:57 pm

Uh, that’s plenty of links, excuse me.

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nic 12.20.04 at 10:25 pm

Gals, no links, no examples = no credibility.

Yeah, well, after all, credible bloggers only need to make their point with a neat, masculine “Heh. Indeed.” That’s how they get on the top 100 in Technorati. Link, quote, approve. That’s the recipe for blog success, “gals”! Go forth and multiply it!

Or maybe not. If one thing is sure, it’s the world needs less political bloggers, and more people having sex. That’s how you save civilisations, folks. Or whatever it is that needs saving.

But I’m only being silly. I don’t know what the argument is about by now, I have nothing credible or coherent to add, I’ll just offer a link to another reiteration of the endlessly recurring WATW question that I was reminded of:


Who/Where are the Women?

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nic 12.20.04 at 10:28 pm

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Pollie Anon 12.20.04 at 11:11 pm

dude (nic) and gal/dude thanks for the links. will read and check in later.

nic, dude, hope you registered your disapproval in the thread where dsquared called everyone birds and there were many references to checks.

or are the aviary references a-ok? it’s just the “gals” that turns you off.

and what about “dude,” dude?

let’s here what gets you mad enough to pull out the “quotes.”

later, duuuuuuuude.

Pollie

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Pollie Anon 12.20.04 at 11:15 pm

That would be chicks not checks. calling dr. freud.

clancy, i just assumed at first you were a tom and then i realized that was silly and that you too might be a gal/chick/bird.

must avoid strong cocktails!!!! (heh)

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Pollie Anon 12.20.04 at 11:55 pm

ok, before I begin I have to say that I hope you won’t hold the fact that I wrote “here” instead of “hear” against me. there’s a liquor store strike on where I live. I,ve been forced to drink leftover gin instead of wine and it takes its toll.

so, ok, i read a lot of those WATW posts and some resonated, some didn’t.

most of the blogs I read are by men but I do read some women — maybe 30%.

re my other reading, if I had to estimate, which is very difficult since I seldom think of the sex of the author, I’d guess closet to 50/50 for fiction and 30 male/70 female for non-fiction.

my problem with this whole man/woman/blogosphere thing is that anyone can start a blog and i find it very questionable to start raising all those oh-so-tired systemic discrimination arguments.

of course, yes, systemic discrimination may affect the approval and attention given — or it may not. personally, i’m more inclined to the latter although that may be my personal bias.

ultimately, i have to say i’m puzzled by the WATW question. or should I say where are the gals/birds/chicks….

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bitchphd 12.21.04 at 12:25 am

I was bitchy b/c the information is out there, not hard to find, and it’s lazy to ask women (and women do get asked, every single time this comes up, and no I’m not going to go link-searching for anyone) to “prove” that what they’re saying isn’t a load of crap.

B/c of course, gals, by definition, lack credibility.

It wastes our time to continually teach feminism 101, and I refuse to do it.

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Jimmy Ho 12.21.04 at 12:52 am

It wastes our time to continually teach feminism 101, and I refuse to do it.

Right on. In other words: why bother? It is still kind of disturbing to see ignorance promoted in such fashion on a self-described “academic” blog (and I do have a lot of respect for Crooked Timber as a whole).

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Pollie Anon 12.21.04 at 1:13 am

Yeah, bitch except this isn’t feminism 101. this is feminism 511, stuff that those nice feminism 101 explanations don’t cover.

and no, women aren’t asked any more often than men to back up their cases.

i remeber once being pissed off at a boss for what i thought was a patronizing paternalistic lecture. Then a male colleague came into my office and informed me he’d just received the same lecture.

of course that doesn’t mean that there aen’t any more “little lady” lectures going on out there. it just means that not everything you think is an anti-feminist putdown is in fact an anti-feminist putdown.

time to move beyond feminism 101 bitch. progress happens. theories need modification. get with the times gal. whoops, sorry, I mean bitch. Cuz you all have let me know that unlike gal, bitch isn’t at all offensive.

now, fare the well. enjoy wallowing in feminism 101.

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jholbo 12.21.04 at 4:20 am

Bitchphd, I’m still waiting to hear how CT (and/or Kieran) is guilty of construing ‘academic’ in some unpardonably narrow way. I’m not just needling you. This is a serious question regarding one bit of evidence about the gender breakdown in academic blogging. The CT blogroll is not technorati, as Kieran has wearily pointed out. You have to ask to be on it. But since that’s all it takes, the CT blogroll is, so far as I know, the single most complete mapping of the academic blogosphere out there. (Harumph, it’s nothing special, you reply. Well point me to a more complete list, if you please.) So: is the CT blogroll seriously and systematically underrepresenting female academic bloggers, because we fail to recognize certain stuff as academic, even given the apparently maximally accommodating link policy? I think the answer is probably no. You think the answer is obviously yes. Please defend your answer.

In general, since CT is well-known and known to give out free links to academics, I’m surprised that eligible folks aren’t stepping up to ask for links. (Don’t all bloggers crave links? No, seriously.) Maybe the CT blogroll is getting a bit creaky and antique? Once upon a time it was new and everyone wanted onboard, but now maybe there are whole buzzing, blooming young academic blogospheroids out there that don’t know about us, and we don’t know about them? And they have a happier male-female ratio?

And please spare me any ‘when I say you are wrong, I expect you to do the research that shows you are wrong.’ I don’t think that attitude is really very sensible or productive. Just answer the damn question if the answer is so obvious as all that.

Laura and Clancy (was it Clancy?), thanks for the comments and links. I am willing to grant for the sake of argument (I just don’t know the facts, ma’am) that there may have been studies done that unfairly defined ‘feminism’ out of political existence. And I do of course understand that there are concerns about how social dynamics and unconscious attitudes, so forth, can relegate women to the sidelines. But this just brings me back to the CT blogroll. It should be immune from those tendencies, since it’s just a ‘send us an email’ thing. I really want to know if there is some reason to think women academics are disproportionately disinclined to send that email, hence disproportionately under-represented in the CT blogroll. If so, is there any plausible way to come up with a better estimate of gender ratios in academic blogging?

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bitchphd 12.21.04 at 5:06 am

I honestly wasn’t criticizing CT’s blogroll (didn’t I say that already?). I’m not invested in whether or not women are on CT’s blogroll; I honestly don’t care. I was just objecting to the reiteration of the “where are the women bloggers” question.

Having said that. I never asked to be on CTs blogroll; I have no idea how I ended up there, though I get hits fairly regularly off of CT. No, I wouldn’t have emailed to ask to be on it; possibly b/c the blogroll is (or was, until Playing School and I ended up on it) discipline-specific, and I don’t declare my discipline on my blog. Or maybe b/c I’m just not inclined to ask to be noticed–am quite willing to speak up if I’m around, but not that self-promoting. Also, as I said in this post, my own academic blogroll is pretty long, and about 75% women.

I realize that CT is going for a “definitive” academic blogroll (not that such a thing is ever really achievable). My objection isn’t so much to saying, “gosh, we don’t seem to have a lot of women on the blogroll, wonder why?” as it is to the turn the conversation took, which was to start throwing out a lot of stereotypical explanations for what’s wrong with women/women bloggers: they don’t self-promote, their blogs aren’t academic enough, whatever. (I also think it’s silly to exclude pseudonymous blogs: it’s not that easy to find out the gender of most pseudonymous bloggers–through either content or simply clicking on their profile or “about me” page. That’s how I determined the gender of a lot of people on my own blogroll, just for the sake of argument.)

In other words, if CT feels their blogroll isn’t inclusive enough, that’s their problem, not the women bloggers’ problem; and if CT wants to, they can fix it. If they don’t want to (b/c admittedly, it’s work–and I don’t blame them, for the same reason that I don’t go link-hunting to support statements about things I know to be fact–it’s a blog, not a thesis), then they don’t have to. No one was complaining about CT’s blogroll except CT. If CT wants to add more links, there have been a lot provided in this very thread to help out.

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bitchphd 12.21.04 at 5:10 am

Oh shit, I didn’t actually answer the question.

My bitching about the definition of academic was specifically in response to Kieran’s own kind of testy comment Oh, come off it. It’s perfectly clear what “academic blogger” means. All I was saying was that the discussion at hand shows that it isn’t “perfectly” clear. Some people mean “research,” some people mean “not anonymous,” some people mean “any blog by a person with an advanced degree.” My own blogroll includes people who have left academe but still talk about it sometimes. I’m just saying that assuming everyone is on the same page is problematic.

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nic 12.21.04 at 10:19 am

pollie anon, first, I’m not and was not “mad” about anything, I quoted your line on linking and credibility because it sounded patronising and made a joke about it. I think it’s amusing to address all “gals” by telling them they should learn linking and quoting to get credibility, when you consider the tactics of some of the popular political bloggers like “professor” Reynolds. Joke explained, how boring. Secondly, I’m not a “dude”. I understood what bitch pd meant as referred in general to that “where are the women” question, not necessarily how it came up here. I don’t read blogs based on gender but on content. I totally agree with what bellatrys said about the fun blogs like Sadly No!, Poor Man, Felber (Roy Edroso too) which take the piss out of sexist wingnuts of both genders. I don’t think I should welcome more women bloggers just because they’re women, regardless of what they write. It doesn’t automatically bring more “diversity”. So to me the question is a non-issue. The way deb frisch raised it was patronising, as she was treating “the lovely ladies” (her words) here as tokens rather than individuals. Whenever that WATW question has popped up before, I don’t know it seems to me it’s inevitably flawed because how many women bloggers you see and read depends entirely on your own selection of blogs. There’s no such thing as a blogosphere that’s fixed and the same for everyone. Unless by that we only mean the top 100 in Technorati or something like that, but that’s not a personal kind of selection. So it’s just amusing to see people try and explain, sometimes in terms of generalisations (women probably like to do this more and do that less; maybe women are less interested in this and that, and so on), a phenomenon – the supposed lower presence of women in blogs – whose existence or inexistence is based entirely on which sites you read. I do think there can be forms of bias in the “top” lists, in how popularity builds or how credibility, indeed, is perceived and assigned. That probably reflects similar mechanisms in society at large. I don’t know, I don’t really see the need for generalisations. Some people say women tend to prefer writing about personal life and mixing it with political commentary, I don’t know if that’s true, but look at Lileks. He’s more incoherent and rambling than the worst stereotype of women, goes on and on about his little daughter, poor girl, his shopping and home life and all that, yet in his accolade he’s an authority. On the other hand, you come across very entertaining accounts of personal experiences told by both men and women, like dooce’s posts about getting fired. They were not strictly “political” but at the same time they were. It doesn’t depend on the gender of the writer (or reader), if something is an interesting read or not.

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sennoma 12.21.04 at 6:53 pm

In general, since CT is well-known and known to give out free links to academics, I’m surprised that eligible folks aren’t stepping up to ask for links.

Just a data point: I qualify for a link (research scientist, blog about work from time to time) but am not on the roll because I’m squeamish about self-promoting. Same deal with PZ Myers’ Tangled Bank: I’d play, but you have to send in your own posts, which I won’t do.

Somehow I don’t mind including the url when I comment on other people’s blogs; that seems “legit” to me. Odd, now that I look at it.

My point is just that there are lots of reasons for not being on the CT blogroll, and the “free links” policy doesn’t bring everyone running. (Oh, and since it’s not obvious from the nick: I’m a guy.)

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Lauren 12.22.04 at 4:04 am

Since we’re all keen on having others do our research for us, Clancy was kind enough to compile a link of links directly related to WATW.

http://culturecat.net/node/637

Additional references are welcome.

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Jill 12.22.04 at 12:03 pm

Here’s a list of some of the academic blogs written by women that I regularly read. None of these are on Crooked Timber’s blogroll.

FWIW, I doubt I would have sent in my URL to be included on the blogroll. For one thing, Crooked Timber obviously consists mostly of academics in fields other than my own. I spend more time reading blogs of people doing research directly relevant to my own, or who are writing about things that interest me in other ways.

It’d be great if you could add these to the blogroll.

Deborah Gussman
http://caxton.stockton.edu/Distracted/
English literature

Angela Thomas
http://anyaka.blogspot.com/
English Education

Susanne Sperring
http://paeonia.blogspot.com/
New media

Kari Kraus
http://karik.wordherders.net/
English literature

Terri Senfft
http://www.livejournal.com/users/tsenft/
New media, performance

Hilde Corneliussen
http://www.genderandcomputing.no/
Gender and computing

Vika Zafrin
http://wordsend.org/
(Humanities Computing)

Stephanie Hendricks
http://mylookingglass.typepad.com/
(English linguistics, new media)

Marika Lüders
(New media)
http://home.no.net/marika75/log/

Lilia Efimova
http://blog.mathemagenic.com/
(Knowledge Management)

Kaye Trammell
http://kaye.trammell.com/blog/
(Mass Communication)

Jean Burgess
http://hypertext.rmit.edu.au/~burgess/
(Cultural studies and new media)

Hanna Wallach
http://www.srcf.ucam.org/~hmw26/join-the-dots/index.html
(Computer Science)

Lisbeth Klastrup
http://klastrup.dk
(Game studies, new media)

Torill Mortensen
http://torillsin.blogspot.com
(Game studies, new media)

Elouise Oyzon
http://weez.oyzon.com/
(she teaches design, web stuff, writes some about academia, teaching, lots of personal stuff)

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Henry 12.22.04 at 3:24 pm

bq. All I was saying was that the discussion at hand shows that it isn’t “perfectly” clear. Some people mean “research,” some people mean “not anonymous,” some people mean “any blog by a person with an advanced degree.”

Bitch Ph.D. – who exactly, apart from you, said that blogs that are “not anonymous” aren’t academic? Certainly not me – the reason that I didn’t count pseudonymous blogs in my quick-and-dirty count, as Kieran said, is that it’s messy data, not because they aren’t academic. The “Who Knows?” category on the academic blogroll was created precisely in order to include people who didn’t want to ‘fess up to their discipline b/c they were worried it would give them away, wanted to bitch about the profession etc etc. Is there anyone who’s seriously arguing that blogs which aren’t totally dedicated to academic research are _ipso facto_ not academic blogs? Certainly not me, not Kieran, not John.

Pseudonymous academic blogs count for us. We specifically reject the narrow definition of politics (see umpteen posts by Kieran, Harry etc in the past). It seems to me that a lot of this argument is heat and air – you came into this debate with a grievance which you never explained very well. You slide between general gripes about male attitudes in the blogosphere, and specific beefs with CT in a way that’s extremely evasive – you don’t seem to want to be pinned down as to what you’re actually arguing, or who you’re arguing against. One moment, it’s that the sample is skewed (fair enough – but that’s something that we acknowledge upfront; if you want to do a count including pseudonymous blogs you’re welcome to, and I’d be interested to see your findings), the next it’s that we (or somebody who’s left unspecified) don’t count pseudonymous blogs as real academic blogs. There’s a real argument to be had, but you seem to me to be mostly blowing smoke.

bq. The “where are the women” discussion occurs about every three months (no kidding), and has been asked by Pandagon, Yglesias, Kevin Drum, and others. It’s frustrating because once the question is asked and the female bloggers have turned out to answer that we are indeed here, the question is cast aside, the blogrolls and interlinking don’t change, and no resolution is made on any level other than occasionally finding an unexpected ally here and there.

Lauren – I think that this doesn’t apply to the CT academic blogroll, which does try specifically and deliberately to be as inclusive as possible. I think that the issue is slightly different here. It’s not so much one of refusing to change the blogroll, as that the academic blogroll at the moment seems to underrepresent women quite substantially. This could indeed be because there’s a large group of women academics out there that we’re not taking account of (Jill has already pointed me to several), but it does seem to me to point to some underlying structural issues – the disparity is large enough that it seems to me to be unlikely to be a result of our sample, given the open linking policy, and our relatively high level of visibility. I’m happy that Clancy seems to be undertaking some serious research on this – look forward to seeing what she comes up with. To the extent that there are women academics out there who should be on our blogroll, I’d like to hear about them so that I can add them. If the women academic bloggers turn out to answer that they’re here, I’ll only be delighted.

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CKR/WV 12.24.04 at 3:52 am

I may be completely out of order here, but I don’t see WhirledView on the Crooked Timber blogroll. So something is being left out, perhaps other relevant blogs as well. Perhaps there is a form to fill out and to be left at the proper office in Sproul Hall. Perhaps Crooked Timber has its own set of criteria (yes, I know, enunciated somewhere in this long thread) that I can hardly criticize, since blogs are subject only to their owners’ whims.

I will note that a few days after my earlier post on this thread, a holiday get-together rehearsed the same old same old, “oh-so-tired systemic discrimination arguments” as someone put it here. Financial management firms care only about how much money you make, not about your genital arrangement. Various parts of the government are now overrepresented in women and blacks. Yeah, right. It really does get tiresome, and much of this thread repeats that. Women don’t want the [higher-paying/more prestigious/more set for advancement] positions because they [have found more satisfaction in/prefer/are more comfortable with/find that they fit their preferred schedules] the lower-status jobs. Oh yeah.

The alternative, of course, is to be baffled that women say they want to [advance/get more money/be in charge/etc] when they actually wind up in the pink-collar jobs.

This kind of debate has gotten nowhere for oh now, thirty or forty years. Or maybe I’m just not getting what’s going on in this thread.

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