Again with the "women and blogging" meme

· The Power of Many

Two posts turned up this week about proportions of male and female bloggers and blog-readers: Joho the Blog: Girls keep out? is entirely about it, and Political Animal: The Blogosphere… mentions it in addition to things like average education level.

This topic has been done to death for years, and there’s a group blog on women in tech for the very reason that there are differences. But like so many iterations of this subject, these two posts miss the point: men and women blog in much closer numbers than they think, but the styles and (especially) topics of interest diverge sufficiently that it’s easy to be misled if you only eat your little slice of the pie. So analyzing gender differences in a tiny subset of “blogs”—say, across a single blog as in the Joho item, or across a single topic such as politics as in PA—is not terribly useful even when the boundaries are well-stated, which they weren’t in these instances.

The Joho item is all about tech blogging, and the PA item is all about political blogging. Hey, folks: men (and whites, and the highly educated) are overrepresented in politics and computer technology; it shouldn’t be news that they dominate political or tech blogs. The PA item cites the recent Blogads survey that says 21% of blog readers are women. Thank goodness folks in the comments pointed out that Blogads is skewed toward high-traffic, political, and ad-bearing blogs.

Apparently many of these posters missed misbehaving’s link to a recent Georgetown thesis, Gender Similarities and Differences in Online Identity and Language Use among Teenage Bloggers: “Contrary to prediction, the results indicate that there are more gender similarities than differences in blog use.” (Again, a small slice of blog reality… but at least the boundaries were clearly stated.)

Update: This post generated reaction and discussion in two posts on Misbehaving, including an apology and clarification from the post’s author.