Theory #1: Women law bloggers are out there, you just don't see them....I think any law professor starting a blog can email other lawprof bloggers and get an early boost. It's much harder for someone who is a lawyer to say look at my blog, but lawprofs have a huge advantage over other bloggers that should irritate nonlawprof bloggers.
One explanation for the apparent lack of female voices is that while they're out there, they're not as well-promoted as the male bloggers. "Folks tend to link to their friends, and it's especially hard for a newer blogger to break into that closed circle," says [Mary Dudziak, a professor of law, history and political science at the University of Southern California and founder/editor of the Legal History Blog.]
It's unlikely that female lawprofs have a special disadvantage. Everyone knows that women lawprofs aren't equally prominent in the law blogosphere, and the tendency among lawprofs is to want to remedy gender inequality, and so women lawprof bloggers have a second advantage.
I remember the first time I emailed Glenn Reynolds in the hope of getting a link. It was back in 2004, after I wrote a post identifying a serious law-related error that a presidential candidate had made in a debate and that no one else had pointed out. I'd been blogging for 6 weeks, putting up posts every day that I was proud of and that I thought showed a distinctive writing style and point of view, but I hadn't thought it was appropriate to ask Glenn, whom I'd never met, to pay any attention to me before that. Glenn linked, and he also emailed something like I didn't know you had a blog, which surprised me, as the mere existence of my blog didn't seem like anything notable. But I got the impression that there was an eagerness to pay attention to women lawprof bloggers.
Theory #2: Women don't have the same time to blog as men. "Regardless of what we say about women's equality, women with families have disproportionate child care responsibilities which leaves them less time to pursue things like blogging," notes Kathleen Bergin, co-author of the First Amendment Law Prof Blog and associate professor of First Amendment and constitutional law at South Texas College of Law....You know, blogging takes time. It takes attention and concentration, and if you are living with people who want attention, it's going to be hard. If you need or love to devote time to your family, you can set aside time to write if you care enough to do it -- a couple hours late at night or early in the morning -- but the question is whether you will want to do that. And you will need to do that every day if you want to become a prominent blogger.
I think it is much harder for women to say to the men and children in their house that this is time I demand for myself and then to sit there stare at a screen and clicking on a keyboard. It looks so cold, this melding of human being and machine.
I think wives get annoyed at husbands who spend too much time staring at the computer. But men who want to do it claim that time for themselves. Women, I think, worry more about looking so self-involved and unconnected to the real, fleshly human beings in the house. They are more vulnerable to guilt and guilt-tripping that they are not loving enough.
I'm no expert on marriage, though I was married long ago, but I can imagine what a husband would say if he was witnessing my writing habits. I picture him telling me it's absurd to live like this. It's unhealthy. It's insane.
Wait. That's why I'm not married. Let me try again.
I picture a wonderfully delightful man who is always luring me away from the keyboard with sex, food, tickets to movies and music shows, travel plans, and ... whatever... long walks in the damned rain. Without Bad Husband or Good Husband in the house telling me/showing me what I should be doing with my time, it's easier for me to choose to do something I want and love to do.
Anyway, Theory #2 has some weight, but I would like to see women take responsibility for what they do with their time. If you care about doing something that you are not now doing, change something.
You have "disproportionate child care responsibilities" and you're a law professor and that's not your choice? Do something about it! Don't use it as an excuse and complain that the whole structure of society needs to change first.
Theory #3: Women are more prone to professional or personal attack, so they avoid blogging....There's some truth to this, but again, I'd like to see some personal responsibility.
The internet is not going to coddle and comfort you. In fact, the internet wants you out of here. If you're going to be the sort of person who doesn't want to insist on her place when she can see that other people want her out of here, you're not going to get very far blogging.
Some blogosphere folk may want to make this a nice, inviting place for you, but they don't control the environment. It's a big, crazy world in here, and you have to stake out your place in it. There are plenty of people who are only too willing to use the techniques that work to exclude women, and you have to decide that you intend to stay. It takes some nerve, and there's a price to pay. It is harder for women. Do it anyway.
Stop whining, blaming others, looking for protectors, and blog... if you want to. If you don't, be honest. Admit it. Play with your kids, watch TV with your husband, read a novel, write a novel... Do what you want, but for God's sake, know what you want and admit it.
ADDED: Mary Dudziak responds to the article:
There are lots of women bloggers, including law bloggers. But it can be hard to break out of a particular niche and into the broader blogosphere. For good bloggers without a natural audience, it can be very hard to establish a readership.Dudziak tells bloggers that they ought to read, blogroll, and link to women bloggers more. You know, it's not that easy to link to blogs. Links need to be worth following, and you won't be a successful linker if you disappoint your readers by sending them to posts that aren't interesting enough. I don't want to link to something that is going to make readers think I'm trying to help women (especially if it looks like I'm trying to help those most privileged of women, women law professors). I'm not blogging to benefit other bloggers. I'm blogging to benefit readers.
The difficulty of establishing a readership is exacerbated when bloggers don’t read and link to women bloggers....
AND: Glenn Reynolds links to this post and seems to disagree with my line "I'm not blogging to benefit other bloggers. I'm blogging to benefit readers."
Hmm. I'm more with SayUncle: "I do this to amuse me, not you."Well, I agree with that too. I'm definitely in it for the personal satisfaction, and perhaps I flatter myself to think that by doing what pleases me, I will benefit you. But I do think that. I do think that blogging is about living freely in writing, in real time, in front of the world.
Glenn has a theory:
In that spirit, here's my own hypothesis: Men are genetically programmed to try to stand out through action, in the hopes of attracting women. It's true, of course that blogging is a relatively ineffective way of doing that -- but so are many other ways this urge manifests itself, like extreme Star Trek fandom. The point is the genetically programmed urge, which isn't programmed into women in the same manner. Is this true? Beats me, but it's amusing.This theory suggests that it's much harder for women to achieve great things. We don't have the ulterior motive. We're only doing something because we think it's worth doing for its own sake. But, then again, it may be a different kind of advantage, to have no ulterior motives.
IN THE COMMENTS: C.C. Holland drops by and says:
Ann, thanks so much not only for this thoughtful, well-written response to my article -- but also for taking the time to Google me and establish that I have, in fact, two X chromosomes. (Much better than being called "gender ambiguous" by Above the Law.)Hey, take responsibility! You chose to be gender ambiguous, and Above the Law gave you what you indicated you wanted. I wasn't trying to show respect, just to gather information for my own purposes. I note that you marginalized me and interviewed other people instead of me, even as my name, apparently, kept coming up. I was curious to see whether a man or a woman was treating me thusly.
On a personal level, I do agree with your point about women not claiming time for themselves as easily as men and for handling the additional weight of guilt. Your comments about taking personal responsibility to overcome obstacles, of course, are dead-on.