Is There a Glass Ceiling in Blogging?

www.inkthinkerblog.com — Interesting article in Sunday’s New York Times (via Debbi Mack), “Blogging’s Glass Ceiling,” about the BlogHer conference in San Francisco earlier this month. The article reads in part,

There is a measure of parity on the Web. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, among Internet users, 14 percent of men and 11 percent of women blog.

A study conducted by BlogHer and Compass Partners last year found that 36 million women participate in the blogosphere each week, and 15 million of them have their own blogs. (BlogHer, which was founded by Lisa Stone, Elisa Camahort Page and Jory Des Jardins, has itself grown into a mini empire that includes a Web site that helps publicize women’s blogs, and an advertising network to help women generate revenue for the site.)

Yet, when Techcult, a technology Web site, recently listed its top 100 Web celebrities, only 11 of them were women. Last year, Forbes.com ran a similar list, naming 4 women on its list of 25.

“It’s disheartening and frustrating,” said Allison Blass, a BlogHer attendee whose personal blog at www.lemonade-life.com is about living with Type 1 diabetes.

Interesting concept, this glass ceiling for women bloggers. I’ve never felt marginalized as a woman blogger, though as a non-mommyblogger… well, that’s another story, and one I’m still feeling kind of cranky about thanks to all of the people at BlogHer who looked at me like I had four heads when I told them I didn’t have kids.

What do you think? Is there a glass ceiling in blogging? What about in writing in general?

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11 comments… add one
  • Joe Jul 31, 2008

    Hey Kristen,
    If you notice, BOTH of the publications mentioned are MSM entities. Maybe it’s their problem. Just sayin’

    Joe’s last blog post..FeedBurner COULD Help Fight Content Scrapers IF They Wanted To

  • Dick Margulis Jul 31, 2008

    If you’re serious about the question, here’s a way to get at the answer: Pick 100 blogs at random that are written by men and 100 at random that are written by women. (I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to figure out a suitable way to do that.)

    Now read, say, the last ten posts in each of those blogs and score each post on a scale where 10 means that it discusses public issues analytically and 0 means it is totally narcissistic twaddle. These will be subjective judgments, but try to be evenhanded. Total up the scores for each blog and then calculate an average for the men and an average for the women.

    If the scores are roughly equal or if the women’s score is higher than the men’s score, you’ve got a case for a glass ceiling. If the men’s average score is 89 and the women’s is 11, then Techcult has it right.

    I have no clue what the answer is going to turn out to be. My reading is about half and half, and the best blogs I read are written by women. But without some sort of statistical analysis of the general type I’m suggesting, we’re all just guessing.

    Dick Margulis’s last blog post..Building a book bottom-up

  • Karen Swim Jul 31, 2008

    Kristen, your experience at BlogHer is interesting and not limited to online. I am 44, widowed and childless. I relocated to MI from CA after my husband’s death and when trying to connect with women, the question of kids comes up. Apparently being married and childless is okay but young , widowed and no kids makes you a freak. I get “the look” and then I am frozen out of the “mommy circle.” I hang out with lots of old ladies who are widowed, spirited and could care less about my mommy status. I also have tons of tips for managing arthritis. :-)

  • Debbi Jul 31, 2008

    Thanks for the link luv, Kristen! I knew you’d find the subject interesting.

    Funny, your mentioning that about kids, too. I’ve been to quite a few conferences in which most attendees have been women, and never been made to feel like a freak for being married without children. However, I remember a time when my peers were just starting to have kids. When you got those mothers together at a party, they’d be off-and-running on subjects I had zero interest in/knowledge of. I’d have to look long and hard sometimes for someone who didn’t want to discuss kid stuff.

    And, Karen, if you don’t have kids, you’re probably having more fun with the spirited elderly gals anyhow. The “mommy talk” in the other group would bore you to tears.

    Debbi’s last blog post..Fun With Fonts

  • Kristen King Aug 1, 2008

    @Joe – Interesting observation! Thanks for pointing that out. :)

    @Dick – That would be a useful experiment indeed, and necessary to make any sense of this.

    @Karen – I don’t know, I got some weird looks when I revealed that I didn’t have kids, and I am indeed married. ;) Glad to know you’re my go-to girl on arthritis, though!

    @Debbi – Well, that’s one of us! I love kids and I’m interested in hearing about people’s children. I have strong opinions on parenting issues. I worked as a nanny for like 12 years, so I think I can handle talking to moms. Really. Honest. I might even enjoy it. Truly.

  • Dick Margulis Aug 1, 2008

    Kristin and others,

    On an unrelated note, I have a question about the CommentLuv widget. On my previous comment, I didn’t notice that it was checked by default, and this is the first time I’ve encountered it.

    Within less than a day of posting here, I got an ACTION REQUIRED email from Blogger (aka Google) telling me my blog had been flagged by their fuzzy logic as “a potential spam blog” and that I would be blocked from posting for up to two days until a human at Google could review it.

    This may be entirely coincidental, but I wonder if others using CommentLuv have run into the same thing. If not, I’ll just chalk it up to randomness in the Universe. I was just wondering…

  • Debbi Aug 2, 2008

    Didn’t mean to offend any kid lovers, but my interest in children tends to increase in proportion to their age. :)

    Debbi’s last blog post..Using Blogs to Comply with SEC Regs

  • Sharon Aug 8, 2008

    I haven’t been blogging long enough to really notice a glass ceiling. The only thing I can think of that would make it appear that way is the people who are selecting the “best”, “most popular” or “stars” of the blogging world for these lists. I’m just taking a wild guess to say they are men. Many of the blogs out there are from working or stay at home moms. Men, unfortunately, have little interest in stuff like that. They are more tech inclined.

    Sorry, to be one of the boring mommies, but I’ve discovered there is nothing else like it. Believe me I can still talk about history, science, the net, books, etc., etc., etc. But when you get two mother’s together it is difficult not to talk about the most precious thing in your life – your kids.

  • Carol Ferndale Aug 9, 2008

    Very interesting article and comments! I had never really thought about whether there is a glass ceiling in blogging, or not.

    I found Dick’s comment very pertinent, and I have noticed that a lot of women’s blogs tend to be of the introspective “mommy blog” type, rather than analytical blogs that deal with general and/or world issues.

    I too have had funny reactions when other women find out that I do not have children, and have been called upon to publicly explain myself.

    I’ve never quite understood why a lot of women seem to be very evangelical about this issue, and I do admit that I tend to enjoy male company because I can discuss topics that really interest me.

    Carol Ferndale’s last blog post..Sophiatown and The Island – memories of struggle

  • Debbi Aug 9, 2008

    I can easily understand how parents (of both sexes, though it’s interesting that you don’t see a lot of “daddy blogs”–hmm) can get excited about their kids. Kids represent something very special to them. Without children, how could we continue as a society, etc.? These things I understand.

    I do have to wonder, though, why a person would need to get “evangelical” on their lifestyle choices. I would no sooner tell a parent they shouldn’t have children than they should tell me I must. On that subject, in general, I think a little more mutual respect for our individual choices is called for.

    As to blogging, well, I like to blog on things that interest me or bother me or amuse me–it doesn’t happen to include children, and that’s just me. The thing is, if you pick a niche to blog on (such as “mommy” issues) it puts you in a “genre,” if you will, of blogging–one that like many genres in fiction (to draw out that analogy) such as romance, sci fi, chick lit or mystery–won’t appeal to everyone. So your blog may be perceived as something less than universal or less serious than blogs that deal with so-called “bigger issues,” like politics or the environment. And like genre fiction, they may tend to be taken less seriously in the grand scheme of the blogging world.

    Just a thought.

    Debbi’s last blog post..Online Social Networks–RU Using Them Well? R They Good 4 U?

  • Mary Aug 18, 2008

    Thanks for the food for thought. You’ve really made me think about my mommy status. I know I let the parenting stuff find its way into my blog quite often.

    BTW, as a new freelancer, I find your blog very helpful and will add it to my blog roll.

    Mary’s last blog post..Weekly Winners August 11 – 16

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