Promoting Women Bloggers: A Timeline of Relevant Discussions

A review of Internet discussions over the last two years regarding promoting women’s voices in blogging. This is not a complete list, but a spotlight on some of the more well-known participants and discussions. This was part of the analysis Promoting Women Bloggers.

  • November 2002: Lisa Guernsey writes an article in the New York Times announcing that she has started a blog, and is wondering where the women are. The article cites the Blog Sisters community aggregated blog, which was launched the previous February by Jeneane Sessum. Liz Lawley, director of the lab for Social Computing at RIT, takes note of it.
  • August 2003: National Insitute for Technology and Liberal Education (NITLE) survey identifies that men and women blog in roughly equal numbers. Half of the blogs studied are personal journals, wherein women outnumber men 2:1. Among blogs “political” in nature, less than ten percent were written by women.
  • November 2003 Shelley Powers asks why men tend to link to more men than women, she calls it “the gender ghetto.” 16 comments: some suggest that men dominate in existing realms. In a follow-up post, she asks bloggers to supply their G quotient: “count the number of times you linked to a male weblogger and the count of times to a female weblogger.”
  • January 2004: Danah Boyd (posting as zephoria) asks misbhaving.net why the perception of bloggers is that are predominantly straight white men; she is challenged, and then she clarifies that the “perception of bloggers” means the ones that are not personal journals. 50 comments. Some predictable answers.
  • March 2004: Ezra Klein, a junior at UCLA, blurts out a post “about the shocking lack of liberal female bloggers.” 60 comments: “As recompense for your lack of research before writing this post, Ezra, you read every one of the listed blogs and stick at least 6 on the blogroll.” and “Ezra, don’t you ever even check out the blogroll on your own weblog? I’m right there under ’25 Large.’ You’re just not paying attention.” Ezra responds once to say that he has “zero apologies.” (Just for the sake of fairness, Jon Garfunkel of eight years ago would probably have made similarly stupid and insensitive comments and they are stored most assuredly in my alma master’s backup takes somewhere).
  • April 2004 Shelley Powers argues that there should be no special sessions set aside for woman bloggers. 5 comments: 2 agree, 1 disagrees.
  • June 2004: Kevin Drum, blogger for Washington Monthly cites a number of statistics about the population of bloggers, noting the NITLE study from the previous August. 15 comments address the gender issue, suggesting various explanations.
  • June 2004 Jeneane Sessum complains to David Weinberger that he doesn’t link to women enough. 15 comments: David reviews his history and concedes, but disputes the “severity of Jeneane’s judgment.” Trudy Schuett and Richard Bennett write that gender shouldn’t matter in evaluating other writers.
  • Responding to the previous two, Pete Gaughan writes Again with the “women and blogging” meme and writes that “it has been done to death for years” (helpfully providing links, leading me to two of the resources above.) Danah Boyd shoots back from misbehaving.net I will speak until the death of gender inequality. 5 comments: Pete apologizes. “I should have omitted the phrase ‘done to death,’ because I don’t believe that. I was rushing to express my exasperation with the street-corner level of analysis I was seeing.”
  • October 2004: Gina Tripani notes a workshop in Boston “Blogging for Women Girls” and is skeptical that such a workshop needed to be set aside for women. 21 comments. Jaclyn Friedman, the workshop organizer, showed up to explain the context. Shelley does not warm to the concept, her last words on it are “As for the workshop, I see this as nothing more like an attempt to breed a specific type of blogger in order to promote an agenda.” This is at odds with the rest of the correspondents.
  • February 2005 Kevin Drum asks: “men are more comfortable with the food fight nature of opinion writing — both writing it and reading it.” 170 responses and I am at wit’s end to try and summarize them. Chris Nolan took him to task for simply not respecting female journalists enough. Drum’s last words on the point: “As for what (if anything) to do about it, I’m just not sure. That’s why I asked.”
  • March 2005: Halley Suitt, also at the “Whose News” conference with Rebecca MacKinnon, asks bloggers to add diversity to their blogrolls. 11 comments. Lisa Stone (surfette) takes this as inspiration to suggest a bloghercon conference, which she and Elisa Camahort had discussed weeks back. Now at Bloghercon.

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