I have been thinking more about TheScientist‘s recent online article, “Vote for your favorite life science blogs“, where they asked this same question of seven of the “top” life science bloggers — all of whom just so happened to be men. It reminded me of Declan Butler’s Nature article that was published approximately two years ago, where he listed the “top” science blogs using some rather ambiguous standards that were inconsistently applied for defining precisely what is a science blog .. and he ended up conveniently ignoring this blog, along with a few others (all of which are about science, receive fairly high traffic, and are written by female scientists, coincidentally). That lack of international recognition for my own efforts in the science blogosphere really made me angry at the time, and to be honest, it still does.
Reminscent of that kerfuffle, The Scientist‘s seeming faux pas has caused quite a stir here at ScienceBlogs as well as throughout the science blogosphere in general. Are they blind, biased, or just plain stupid? Why couldn’t TheScientist have found two or three — or heaven forbid even just one — woman to include in their group of esteemed science bloggers?
I suppose that one should begin by establishing what is a “top” science blog, anyway? Is this standard based on traffic alone? Or on the quality of the writing? And, if the writing on a particular blog is “good”, then doesn’t that blog’s traffic reflect its perceived quality? If so, then why were (male) blog writers included in that survey whose blogs have less traffic than say, this one?
But besides those questions, I am curious to know why you think women are so underrepresented among the “top” science blogs. Is this due to innate biological differences between men and women that are manifest on their blogs? For example, are women genetically (or hormonally) “programmed” to remain out of the limelight, to be followers rather than leaders, to support others as they seek to change the world, rather than seeking to do so themselves? Or maybe women are too busy with other things to write a top science blog, especially since they are typically the primary caregivers to kids and family, even when the father remains solidly in the picture. Perhaps testosterone or social conditioning (or both) cause men to communicate differently than women do; maybe men use words as a rhetorical penis that they flash around at the world, while women use words to build communities.
On the other hand, could this gender imbalance instead be due to the perception that blog writing is yet another male-dominated activity that basically squeezes women out of top recognition because, well, they’re not part of the boys’ club? But the life sciences enjoy a fairly large contingent of female scientists and doctors as well as female blog writers, unlike most other scientific fields, such as physics, for example, yet this gender imbalance remains. Or maybe you readers just enjoy reading what a man writes more than what a woman writes? If so, that suggests that there is a gender-based difference in writing styles. If so, can you describe what that difference is? And again, if there is a difference, this takes us back to the rhetorical penis suggestion. Is this ultimately what blog writing (and possibly all writing in general) is all about?