Whose Voices Get Heard? Gender Politics in the Blogosphere

Results: Observation of "A-List" Linking Practices

Finally, I decided to test the claim that the most widely-read bloggers do not link to women as often as to men. On the Web site “Blogstreet,” there is a list of the 100 most important weblogs. Importance is measured by how many sites—bloggers and commercial news media—link to the weblog. I examined the blogrolls of the top ten bloggers on the list to find out how many were men and how many were women. For the purposes of this study, I am considering a blogger a man if he performs as a man on his weblog; for example, if he has a masculine name and refers to himself as “he” on his “About Me” page, which often takes the form of a brief biographical sketch, I have counted him as a man. Copyright notices were also an effective indicator of gender. Likewise, I considered anyone performing as a woman on her weblog to be a woman. Results are ordered to correspond with the blog’s rank on the “100 Most Important Weblogs” list.
Table 6: Results of Observation of Blogrolls of the top ten most important bloggers from Blogstreet. Importance was ranked by how many other sites linked to these bloggers’ sites.

Blogrolls Indeterminate Gender Community Weblogs
(both men and women posting)
Women Men
Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit) 15 21 30 211
Andrew Sullivan (AndrewSullivan.com) 0 3 1 3
Dave Winer (The Scripting News) 5 7 16 65
Boing Boing (community of men and one woman) 1 2 1 15
The Volokh Conspiracy (community of men and one woman) 4 3 4 26
Joshua Micah Marshall(Talking Points Memo) 0 0 0 1
Doc Searles (The Doc Searles weblog) 8 7 23 119
Ken Layne 2 2 18 59
Tim Blair 0 0 1 5
The Vodka Pundit 13 9 37 188

As the results show, not one of the top ten most important weblogs is maintained by a woman. Women are represented in only two community weblogs, which are maintained by a community of men and one woman. In all cases, men greatly outnumber women on blogrolls. When understood in the context of blogging practices, these findings have negative implications for women who want recognition on a large scale. If the top weblogs are mostly men, and the weblogs they link to are also maintained by mostly men, it becomes difficult for women to enter the conversation. It should be noted, also, that the majority of women linked to by these bloggers are politically conservative, so the findings are even more disappointing for feminists and other left-leaning voices.

Next: Conclusion


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As the keeper of a non-A-list site given to avoiding the term "blog," I found your presentation both useful and insightful. Do carry on the good work.


Thank You

... for that insightful survey and study which pretty much goes along with what I've observed in the blogosphere. I've tried to have conversations about this particular topic in many places online, and each time I've been pretty much "shouted down" and told that I was wrong. It's true that there are actually more women bloggers than men bloggers maintaining weblogs today, but it's also true that in the upper circles of the A-Listers it's mainly a boys' club and they seldom link to or allow women to enter the conversation. And those few women who are among the upper echelons go along with the way things are so as not to be cast outside that circle. This comes as no surprise to me, but it is a disappointing reality considering that the 'Net should be gender-neutral, unlike the offline world, and that "outsiders" voices should be welcome and responded to. If we cannot create a more open community of webloggers online, it is a sad commentary to how we've developed as human beings... and leaves little hope that things in the offline world will evolve past the point of sexism.

There are a few notable bloggers who do look past their little circles and I hope someday they will influence the others to be more open and welcoming to the women bloggers they just happen to discover out here on the 'Net. I'm afraid, however, that it may take many years for that to happen.

The A List and the Queen of Blogging

For starters, I hate the whole notion of the A list to begin with. That's not a fault of your study, which is appropriately done!

Secondly, I have noticed that whenever I read media accounts of bloggers who happen to be female, they are almost always crowned as THE QUEEN OF BLOGGING.

I mean, like, each time. A different person each time, of course. But they're still identified only by their gender, and by virtue of that gender, given some sort of stupid status which means they're supposed to sit on a pedestal or a Rose Parade float with a tiara on their heads.

--Kynn <kynn@idyllmtn.com>

Gender Balance

It's unsurprising to me that the blogosphere reflects society. I find it surprising that anyone believes that the "'Net should be gender-neutral." It was built mostly by men, and only recently has the online population become gender balanced.

I actually find it refreshing how many women's voices are now accessible via the web. It seems there are so many more who are blogging than I hear speaking at conferences or whose names appears as by-lines in print.

I haven't tallied them up, but I know my blogroll contains links to far fewer women than men. I might argue that with my technical interests such an imbalance is hard to avoid. However, I believe there are many women bloggers whose interest cross mine who I have never heard of, and even more who dedicate themseleves to like-minded work, but don't write about it. How do we hear minority voices when they don't appear in frequently read places?


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