by John Hawkins | August 8, 2007 3:10 am
Every so often in the blogosphere, somebody notices that most of the bigger blogs tend to be run by white guys and then there is a big dust-up where words like “diversity” and “good old boys’ club” are tossed around with gusto to explain why more women aren’t at the tippy tippy top on the net.
The latest kerfluffle of this sort was caused by a WAPO article on the Yearly Kos, written by Jose Antonio Vargas. Here’s an excerpt,
“It’s Sunday, day 4 of Yearly Kos, the major conference for progressive bloggers, and Gina Cooper, the confab’s organizer-in-chief, surveys the ballroom of the massive McCormick Place Convention Center. A few hundred remaining conventioneers are having brunch, dining on eggs, bagels and sausage.
Seven of the eight Democratic presidential candidates have paid their respects this weekend, and some 200 members of the credentialed press have filed their stories. A mere curiosity just two years ago, the progressive blogosphere has gone mainstream. But Cooper sees a problem.
“It’s mostly white. More male than female,” says the former high school math and science teacher turned activist. “It’s not very diverse.”
…A panel called “Blogging While Female,” held Saturday morning, was an aberration — an overflow room of about 75, mostly women, a few of them minorities.
“How many of the women in the audience blog?” asked a panelist.
Nearly three-fourths of those present raised their hands.
“How many of you get harassed?”
The hands stayed up. They complain of being harassed online for their views on issues such as abortion rights.
“There’s an awful lot of work to do, and the thing to remember is, this progressive movement is at a place right now to bring more voices in, especially when you talk about issues — abortion, voting rights, public education — that directly affect women and communities of color,” said Latifa Lyles, sitting in the back of the room, her arms crossed, and balancing her computer on her lap. She’s black and works for the National Organization for Women.
Allie Carter, of the American Civil Liberties Union, her laptop also on her lap, nodded and chimed in. She’s white. “Yes, this is a problem. A big problem.”
So what if the “A-List” liberal bloggers are mostly white guys? What makes that a “big problem?” If the biggest cooking blogs turned out to be run by women, would that be a “big problem?” If the most popular sports bloggers turned out to be men, would that be a “big problem?”
Here’s the reality: for whatever reason, the audience in the blogosphere is mostly male (According to Blogads, 72.42% of the audience is male) and subjectively, from what I’ve seen over the last few years, most new political blogs are created by guys. So, since that’s the case, is it a big surprise that more men are doing well than women?
You want to boil the entire issue down to a sentence? Here is it! More men read political news and write political blogs and so, therefore, more men have been successful at building large blogs.
This is actually pretty obvious given that the barriers for entry into the blogosphere are so incredibly low for anyone who’s online. Do you have a computer and an internet connection? Great! You can sign up somewhere like Blogger and have your first post up in 20 minutes if you’re so inclined. Moreover, there are more than a few successful women bloggers out there. In fact, arguably, the most successful blogger on the right is Michelle Malkin and the most successful blogger on the left is Arianna Huffington. If they can do it, how can it be that women are being held back somehow?
The usual response is that there is a “good old boys’ club” that won’t link women. The truth is that’s nothing but an excuse for people who aren’t cutting it. It’s very difficult to climb up the ladder in the blogosphere and there are very few people who are as successful as Michelle Malkin or the people at Redstate.
Also, the few people who have had any success at blogging have usually been putting in hours a day, for years, sometimes with very minimal financial compensation to get where they are. Then consider that, especially on the right, most of the big blogs don’t dole out many links to other blogs as a general rule. Furthermore, over time, people tend to pick out favorite blogs and keep going back to them. That’s not because they’re part of a “good old boys’ network,” it’s because most blogs are here today, gone tomorrow, and the vast majority of the ones that aren’t, really don’t put out particularly good material. So, when you find a blog you like, you tend to go back to it again and again.
So, since there are so few people who “make it,” it doesn’t take a “good old boys’ network” to explain failure because success is the exception and failure is the rule. If there are more men than women willing to buck those odds, percentage wise, more men will succeed at blogging — and that’s exactly what has happened.
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