Why So Few Female Pundits, Redux
Meryl Yourish has weighed in to the Why So Few Female Pundits? debate with one, two, three posts (and counting?)
Her arguments are that the Drum thesis, with Joyner concurring, that women in the aggregate are less willing to engage in political mudslinging than men is flawed because:
- 1. There is a woman who is ranked ahead of all men in the sport of . . . climbing.
2. There are other measuring sticks for blog popularity than the Ecosystem.
3. 57% of the people who read blogs are male.
4. Popular male bloggers don’t link to female bloggers as often as they link to male bloggers.
5. Kevin Drum perpetuated this trend by not linking to the women bloggers he mentioned in the post about why more women bloggers don’t have a lot of links.
Interesting points. Off the top of my head (because male bloggers don’t have to do any research–links and traffic just come a’ flyin’) I’d say:
1. I didn’t know that. Granted, I didn’t know that climbing was a sport. But, still, I’d have guessed that climbing rewarded strength and a long reach (although, presumably, also a lower body weight) and guessed males would dominate like they do in virtually every other sport. (Again, in the aggregate. Lots of women are better in lots of sports than, for example, me.)
It may well be, too, that there are enough individual women who are geared for the nature of the political punditry that the aggregate doesn’t matter. There are several combative women out there running political blogs, several of them good. Their number certainly seems small, though, in proportion to the males. This is admittedly unscientific, but I’ve been reading and linking blogs for two years plus now.
2. This is true. Of course, the Ecoystem and SiteMeter average daily visits are the ones that I’ve seen mentioned about 99% of the time blog metrics have been cited anywhere. Perhaps the female bloggers use different metrics, though, and I’ve missed them because of my male-centric reading habits. Of the ones Meryl listed, though, (Technorati, Blogstreet, and Daypop) I still find male blogs predominating. So presumably, the measuring stick doesn’t much matter.
3. Also true. Could it be that, in general, male blog readers prefer to read male bloggers’ opinions? It’s possible. Michelle Malkin, La Shawn Barber, and Wonkette have managed to skyrocket to the top of the Ecosystem in short order in this milieu but that’s only three compared to five or six male/mostly male sites. Then again, it’s only a 14% margin (57-43). This doesn’t seem sufficient to explain why the overwhelming number of the top 100 blogs (as ranked by linkage) have male principal authors.
Of course, this creates another question: Why are 57% of the readers of blogs male? Are males more interested in politics in general? More interested in the type of political discourse that takes place on blogs?
4. Is there evidence that male bloggers link the female bloggers to whom they refer less often than they do the male bloggers? Or is this just another way of saying that male bloggers primarily read male bloggers?
Meryl notes my Traffic Jam as an example, taking a random sampling and finding that my links are almost exclusively to male bloggers. That wouldn’t surprise me, since the blogs on my blogroll trend toward military-security coverage, a domain dominated by males much moreso than the blogosphere as a whole. In today’s installment, for example, I only link one female (LaShawn) of the five gender-known bloggers. (My sexist assumption is that the people who run this site are male, but plenty of women use the F word creatively, too.) Still, there are numerous woman bloggers on the ‘roll, one of whom is also a member of the OTB editorial team, and I’ve linked several of them in posts over the last couple of days. (Eight links to Meryl alone in just this post!) There’s no general conspiracy at OTB to keep the sisters down.
5. True again–although he did in fact link the gals in question once the faux pax was pointed out to him. Still, as I noted at the time, bloggers often mention large numbers of sites in passing without linking to them. Unless there’s a trend at Kevin’s site of which I’m unaware of subconsciously dissing the ladies, it seems an implausible explanation.
Clearly, good writers of either sex can do quite well in the Blogosphere, regardless of the ranking metric. For whatever reason, males have tended to dominate, though. I’m not sure we’re closer to answering the question than we were when Kevin raised it.
Maybe we should ask Malkin. She’s at #5 in the Ecosystem despite the lack of stale blogroll links, #12 in average daily traffic, selling BlogAds at $80 a week, and also has a popular syndicated column and two successful books.
Update (1813): It occurs to me that the better question may be, “Why are some blog(ger)s more successful than others?” Overall blog traffic is up, presumably biting into the audience of other venues. But there are only so many eyeball hours available. Whether it’s links, traffic, ad sales, or whatever, most blog(ger)s are going to remain relatively obscure. Blog(ger)s who are in the top 100 of the Ecosystem or the upper 10% in traffic are exceptions.
Except in rare cases (e.g., Washingtienne) the sex of the blogger is unlikely to be a determinative factor in this. Writing well about topics that interest a lot of people and doing a good job of networking are keys to success. I don’t know what the key to superstardom is, though.