Again with the "women and blogging" meme

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.






2 responses to “Again with the "women and blogging" meme”

  1. apophenia Avatar

    I will speak until the death of gender inequality

    My hair curled over a blog entry entitled Again with the “women and blogging” meme (in response to two entries). The tone is insulting, arguing that the topic of women and blogging has been done to death. It is precisely this kind of post that reminds …

  2. xian Avatar

    Note that danah boyd is taking except with the idea that discussing women and blogging has been done to death and objects to the tone of “enough with the…,” finding it dismissive of her concerns and those of anyone who wants to discuss gender issues related to blogging.
    (Note to self: Add prominent bylines to posts!)
    One other thing, and I’m serious here. Would it be uncool to notice that danah’s blog’s design has gotten more attractive?
    As with my earlier posts on this topic, if my writing is as if to a club of insiders who are familiar with my cant, am I not always risking sounding as if I am excluding anyone who is not initiated yet into my personality or my way of expressing myself or my view of the idioms and pop-culture references that are in my vocabulary.
    Someone at the Technorati salon told me that unintentionally excluding people is not as bad as doing it intentionally. Then Craig Newmark told me, in so many words, that as a “recovering nerd” he is committed to the goal of being as inclusive as possible.
    Maybe my next book should be on Nerds vs. Geeks?
    (Note to self: don’t sent comments that autogenerate mail to one’s editor when on deadline.)