Why So Few Female Pundits?
The Susan Estrich-Mike Kinsley kerfuffle has brought the dearth of females on the op-ed pages to the forefront. Kevin Drum weighs in with a thoughtful response, observing that the trend seems to have replicated itself in the blogosphere.
Yet if you take a look at the Blogosphere Ecosystem, which for all its faults is probably the closest thing we have to a consensus measure of popularity for political blogs, you will find exactly two women in the top 30: Michelle Malkin and La Shawn Barber. (There are a few group blogs in the top 30, but those are very heavily male dominated too.)
That’s a grand total of 7% of the most popular political blogs. And to gaze even more deeply into our collective navel, that 7% is 100% conservative. On the liberal side, Wonkette weighs in at #33, and the most popular serious political blog authored by a liberal woman is TalkLeft, ranked 48th. That’s it for the top 100, unless I’ve missed someone.
Kevin articulates the reason most of us would give for the male/female disparity:
[M]en are more comfortable with the food fight nature of opinion writing Ã¢€” both writing it and reading it. Since I don’t wish to suffer the fate of Larry Summers I’ll refrain from speculating on deep causes Ã¢€” it might be social, cultural, genetic, or Martian mind rays for all I know Ã¢€” but I imagine that the fundamental viciousness and self aggrandizement inherent in opinion writing turns off a lot of women.
It’s as good a reason I can come up with.
What I actually find more interesting than the overall male/female gap, though, is the ideological one. As Kevin notes, the two most popular female bloggers are conservatives. So are are four of the top six (Catalano and McArdle are libertarian moreso than conservative, but they both supported the Iraq War and President Bush’s re-election, so we’ll count them for our purposes). Since American women are far more apt to vote Democrat than their male counterparts, this is rather surprising.
Update: Extraneous “The” eliminated.
Update (2140): Betsy Newmark doesn’t care what gender writers are. She (and LaShawn) chide Kevin for not linking the sites he referred to in his initial post, which he’s since done. In Kevin’s defense, I often fail to link top sites if I’m just referring to them casually–especially if I’m doing it serially like Kevin did above. It’s out of laziness or haste rather than a desire to cheat people out of linkage.
Update (2-21): Commenter John Lemon sheds some light on this paradox:
I donÃ¢€™t see the problem here. Michelle Malkin is hot. (Note her sexy windblown hair in her blog picture.) Kevin Drum is not hot. (I donÃ¢€™t care if Kevin has windblown hair or not.) That is why Michelle Malkin is in the top blogs. […] Now if Tia Carrere would have a blog, I would read it.
Excellent observations. Of course, one would think this would lead to more women among the top bloggers. . . .