Lisa Guernsey has recently started a weblog about search engines. She writes in today’s Circuits section of the New York Times about the relative prominence of men in the blogosphere as compared with women.
Many have pointed out, however, that blogs are a fairly egalitarian format, with women, people of color, and other groups who have not always had access to the power of the press in on the game from the very beginning.
Guernsey has a few theories. One is the old saw about men and women and public and private spheres (“women write diaries, men pontificate about politics”):
And that is where things get touchy. People who track blogs hate to make generalizations, but many acknowledged that female bloggers often have more of an inward focus, keeping personal diaries about their daily lives.
If that is the case, the Venus-Mars divide has made its way into Blogville. Women want to talk about their personal lives. Men want to talk about anything but. So far the people who have received the most publicity (often courtesy of male journalists) appear to be the latter.
But I don’t buy this. I started an online “diary”-type journal years ago and I’ve kept it up on and off ever since. Some of the most popular blogs that happen to be by men are highly personal and even intimate.
The other theories, that men bring a dominance from old media and journalism and the technology business into the blogosphere, rings a little more true to me. There is a kind of momentum here. The sample also gets skewed when you look at pundit and journalist bloggers and the people they read and comment on. They get more press in the trad media and the stereotype gets reinforced.
(Guernsey points out, for example, that Instapundit’s blogroll is heavily tilted towards men, as is Scott Rosenberg’s. I haven’t done a gender analysis of my own blogroll. Maybe I should.)
Are men statistically more likely than women to promote their own ideas about public things and try to build a large audience of strangers? Are women more likely than men to write about the things in their personal lives, their hobbies, their obsessions? I wonder.
Nice plug for the Julie/Julia Project in the article. No mention of Salon Blogs’ superstar blogger who happens to be female.