Halley Suitt has brought up an issue that’s come up in the past: is there gender bias in the blog world? Says she:
Connect that with Dana Blankenhorn’s interesting post on Corante called Everybody Wants To Rule The World and his assessment that the most striking thing one might notice when reading Blogstreet’s 100 Most Influential Blogs is how many are about politics … call me crazy, but isn’t the MOST STRIKING THING rather that in a new technology dominated by women so few women are in the list? This would be like reading a list of the Most Influential Civil Rights Leaders and not having any African Americans in the top 100. Imagine a list that read “Lyndon Johnson, Bob Dylan, Robert Kennedy, Joan Baez,” and on and on. Martin Luther who?
Halley undercounted the number of female-written or -cowritten blogs (she guessed three; it’s more like 20) in the Top 100 list, a point that was noted later on. She goes on to ask a great question:
Which, of course, gets us to the definition of “influential” and Blogstreet’s algorithm for determining who is influential. They say it is based on who blogrolls whom. I will email them today to ask about this in greater detail. If you look at some of the most influential blogger’s blogrolls, they all have women listed. Many have the same women listed — so how is it that none of these women are on the Top 100 list? Women like Shelley Powers, Virginia Postrel, Mena Trott, GnomeGirl Cheyenne, Jeneane Sessum, Elaine Kalily, Asparagirl, Esther Dyson, Karlin Lillington, Elizabeth Spiers, Reverse Cowgirl, Denise Howell, Moxie, Betsy Devine, Xeni, Susan Mernit, Jennifer Balderama, Amy Wohl, Jenny (Shifted Library) Levine, Elizabeth Lane Lawley. I am throwing this list up in no particular order — actually referring to the top 5 male blogger’s blogrolls. [If I forgot you, remind me.]
It’s clear that the top male bloggers are not denying women their blogroll inks, for the most part. It’s clear that the top male bloggers take every chance to list women bloggers and engage the topics that they raise. These men are too smart not to take us seriously. We are their colleagues, friends, girlfriends, sisters, bosses, moms, daughters. They want the best for us. Guys, feel free to blogroll us anytime.
Still we are almost inviisble and I want to know why. What are we doing wrong? Are we not publishing our blogs in RSS? Are we not promoting ourselves enough? Are we not expressing ourselves clearly? Our footprint is illegible, although our actual influence is not inconsequential. If you take a look at the list of women above, there are a few pioneers listed who could actually be considered founding fathers … whoops, I mean, founding mothers, no, … well you get the idea.
First, as far as I can tell, being among the Top 100 Most Influential Blogs is like being one of the top prizewinners on the Professional Bowlers’ Tour, without the money and glamour. It’s a big deal to a very small audience, and meaningless to everyone else. For what it’s worth, I get something like one or two referrals a month from that Top 100 list, according to my Sitemeter stats, so even within this small audience, it has little practical effect beyond a button on my sidebar and some egoboo.
Second, despite Ginger’s skepticism about the “women blog personally and men blog politically” meme, all I can say is that counting expats and at least one blog that hasn’t updated since February, there are 14 blogs among the 91 Texas political blogs that I know of which are at least co-written by women. Given Ginger’s accurate observations about how Blogstreet compiles its list, if this ratio is representative (which of course it doesn’t have to be), it goes a long way towards explaining the discrepancy.
Compare this, by the way, to the list of all Houston bloggers, a group that’s overwhelmingly nonpolitical. Just click on a few at random – they’re mostly written by women. For sure, turnout at the various get-togethers we have are usually majority female. I don’t see a single blog in the Blogstreet list that’s in the personal-diary style that most of the H-Town Blogs are.
I don’t know what Blogstreet’s algorithm is, and I don’t know if being a “most influential” blog is something anyone should worry about. I do know that every time this issue comes up, a bunch of interesting and new-to-me blogs written by women get publicized here and there. That’s reason enough to be happy to see it again.
(Link to Halley’s post via Joanne McNeil.)