Is there a male bias in the blogosphere? Many people would say that, when looking at political blogs in particular, that question would be akin to wondering whether there is any evidence of global warming or not.
There was an interesting Boston Globe commentary that my thesis advisor Lynn Liccardo sent to me earlier this month, about how the vast majority of political bloggers--especially the prominent ones--were male. She was interested in knowing what Henry and I thought, if we had seen the article, since so much of our work deals on participatory culture and the way that new technologies are changing dynamics.
But I think these are very real issues to discuss. The piece, by Ellen Goodman, posits a variety of possibilities: that males interested in politics have entrenched networks that help them get more visibility, more gigs in the traditional media, etc.
Or perhaps that the typical blog reader is male. She writes, "The typical political blog reader is a 43-year-old man with an $80,000 family income. Is it any surprise that Hillary Clinton gets only 9 percent in most online-activist polls, while garnering more than 40 percent in traditional polls?" Another theory is that men simply dominated the Internet early on as lead users and that this early dominance has continued on. Or even that many female voices are scared silent.
Political blogging is outside my area of study, and largely outside my area of interest. But the implications these questions have on citizenship, the nature of produsing news online, and a vibrant and healthy online environment for a democracy of ideas is at the heart of what I care about.
I'm writing today in a few of my updates about marginalized voices. I often focus on this from a fan perspective, where the voices of non-straight, non-white, non-male, non-young, and so on are often under-served. That gender discrepancies carry over to new technologies are no surprise; I would not consider myself a technological determinist, and no technology is a cure-all to biases and imbalances in our culture.
In a way, these harken back to the conversation we've been having in academia for a while, dealing with gender issues in relation to fan studies. See my initial post about this series