Monday, November 14, 2005

Just part of the 8%

“The political opinion world is white male.”
Kathleen Hall Jameson from the Brian Montopoli CJR Daily Report.

My November 5th post on the lack of diversity at the Democrats Jefferson-Jackson dinner blogger table inspired some research on gender, politics and blogging. And I hate to inform you, but it's as bad as graduate school; the discussion of gender and blogging, particularly the act of political blogging, produces reams of posts, comments and even a Ph.D. Dissertation. What would doctoral candidates do without gender issues?

My post on the Democratic bloggers at the JJ dinner was a gut-check comment directed at Drew Miller's casual observation about all of the white male bloggers workin' the dinner. I thought it ironic, as I assume Drew did as well, that there were four white guys representing Iowa's party of diversity to the blogoshphere. The principles in the post, Drew Miller and Chris from political forecast, spent a day or two commenting, with, perhaps, a hint of apologist sentiments.

My thinking -- no need to apologize or even rationalize all the white guys, as it seems there are only a handful of women bloggers talking politics.

From the March 2004 Columbia Journalism Review Daily(CJR daily link is down), Brian Montopoli summarizes recent data on gender and the blogosphere.

... Click around the blogosphere and you'll see a lot of ideological diversity. Bloggers are posting from left, right and center, from perspectives that range from Libertarian to Marxist. And on the surface, that diversity extends to other arenas: Men and women, recent studies show, blog in roughly equal numbers. A notable exception: Women are responsible for as little as four percent of political blogs -- "sites devoted to politics, current events, foreign policy, and various ongoing wars" -- according to the National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education (NITLE). ...

... Of course, you probably didn't need Campaign Desk to tell you that. From Instapundit to Daily Kos to Atrios to Andrew Sullivan to Calpundit, men run the poli-blogs with the most buzz -- and the most traffic. There is only one female-run blog, the venerable Wonkette!, listed among the top twenty at The Truth Laid Bear, which ranks a number of blogs by their daily traffic.

By contrast, according to the NITLE study, twice as many women as men write personal diary-style blogs. If the numbers are to be believed, then, outspoken male bloggers all live on Mars, while the more introspective women are blogging away from Venus. ...

A year and a half later, not much has changed. Using the Truth Laid Bear ecosystem rankings from Sunday, of the top fifty blogs only four are published by women; Michelle Malkin, The Huffington Post, La Shawn Barber’s Corner, and Wonkette. From this small sample, I am excited to report that we have doubled our participation and now produce an estimated 8% of the poli-blogs. And, in this case, three of the top poli-blogs are written with a conservative or libertarian bent.

Montopoli looks a little deeper into the gender divide in poli-blogging and finds a diversity of opinions as to root causes: women tend to write blogs with variable content making it difficult to find an audience (Bob you’re right on this one); women may not be as obsessive about their blogging habit; and blogs are an outgrowth of the male dominated tech sector. All are reasonable assumptions, and probably explain some of the gender disparity in poli-blogging, but the interesting issue is whether this disparity will continue or if women poli-bloggers are just a little late to the show. I believe it’s a bit of both; we’ll continue to see an increase in women publishing poli-blogs, and yet the rate of growth will probably not create gender based poli-blog parity anytime soon.

Poli-blogs are here to stay. A Harris Interactive survey indicated that poli-blog readership exploded in 2004, and the election played a huge role; 44% of online US adults have read a poli-blog and over a quarter of these readers have surfed into poli-blogs at least once a month. And, according to a 2004 study on blogging by the Pew Interactive and American Life Project, that trend should continue. The Pew project surveyed Americans, in February and again in November, and found that the use of blogs increased by 58% in just nine months.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the use of poli-blogs to filter, tweak and shred the news will continue to grow, and with growth comes diversity. Blogging is a dynamic cultural invention, and as the technology improves and women find other women bloggers, more will jump into the game.

For the most part, we like our white males, but we really like ‘em when they figure out they need to make room at the table for the gals with laptops and serious habits.

Excellent post, IE. I think the discussion that your post provided really illustrated some points that needed addressing and I know there were people talking about it outside of just the blogosphere and the message got passed on. And I'm glad the discussion occurred. Keep up the good work.
Good stuff, but wonkette is pretty much a nader-loving liberal with a penchant for poo jokes. That makes the count 2:2 by my estimation.
Thanks guys, and Drew, I'll give Wonkette. One more thing; encourage your female peers to take up the habit.
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