October 4, 2008

One more round of the old question: Why aren't there more female lawprof bloggers?

Law.com has a big piece -- written by C.C. Holland -- on the old topic of the lack of women bloggers, specifically law bloggers. She -- I had to use Google to figure out C.C.'s a she -- details 3 theories:
Theory #1: Women law bloggers are out there, you just don't see them....

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.]
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.

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 staring 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.

The difficulty of establishing a readership is exacerbated when bloggers don’t read and link to women bloggers....
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.

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.)

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.
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.

45 comments:

Electric Citizen said...

The Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writer's Block, and the Creative Brain by Boston neurologist Alice Flaherty.

Hypergraphia

Get your fingers up, and step away from the computer.

Trooper York said...

Jeez, this should be good for 2000
comments.

sean said...

I would go with theory three, but would add that women bloggers, especially if they are right of center, face a level of sexually themed attack that most women find unbearable. This doesn't exist to anything like the same degree in other fora.

1jpb said...

Theory four; women can't wink on blogs, therefore their effectiveness is limited.

m00se said...

"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.
"

Wow - I guess I know why you vacation with your sons. Adult relationships can be *so* limiting...

rhhardin said...

It's easy for men because they're always abstracting from complexity, which amounts to a series of stances. It's fun to take them and defend them, for a guy.

Women go the other way, to complexity , to engage their interest.

So on Althouse you find ``What am I thinking'' posts.

Abstraction is replaced by the sudden storm, when clearing away is needed.

As to successful blogs, Zipf's law rules. You get a few major ones and a long tail of all the rest. Having more major ones isn't going to happen.

dr kill said...

Holy personal responsibility, Batman. This sounds suspiciously libertarian/anarchist in tone, attacking the 'it takes a village' meme of the tenured Left. You go, girl.

Do something, even if it's wrong.

Eric said...

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.

Or in anything else, for that matter.

Wilber said...

"Stop whining, blaming others, looking for protectors, and blog..."

OK, but what about that cruel neutrality thing? Starting to sound awfully Republican, you know.

Rachel said...

Frankly, I'd never once given any thought to the lack of female law professor bloggers. It possibly has something to do with the fact that (gasp!) I'm not a law professor. However, I can definitely relate to a few of the points in her three theories. Blogging does take time, especially if you're not blogging with the intent to spill emotions all over the front of someone's shirt.

As the mother of a one-year old daughter and a wife (not to mention holding down a job) my posts are frequently limited to the late hours of the night once everyone has gone to bed. That was the decision I made. I could have easily made the excuse that I simply don't have enough time to indulge in my hobbies, but I didn't. I happily spend time with my family, and then I happily sacrifice sleep time for fiddling about on the internet and blogging.

It's because of this exact reason I find it impossible to sympathize with people who complain that they "simply don't have enough hours in the day". Wrong, you do. Just as with any other aspect in your life, you have to prioritize what is important to you and make time.

Palladian said...

"Wow - I guess I know why you vacation with your sons. Adult relationships can be *so* limiting..."

Both of her sons are adults.

bob said...

2000? Trooper? Nah. Not unless she appends something dismissively breast-ish. ... perhaps noting that Sarah Palin's breasts, unlike J.V.'s, are a more powerful symbol of competent feminism because they are NOT the opening gambit in a game of Mousetrap?

Althouse is wrong about the Biological Basis of the Net, however: Natural Selection is not hostile - it is agnostic. Hmmm ... are there any Feminist Bio-Bloggers whose juices need stirring?

Happy Saturday

George said...

well, whatever....

I'm just glad you blog and I look at yours just as much as glenn's now-

and besides, I think you're cute-

if that's sexist, or not pc-

well, whatever....

Chip Ahoy said...

This post fills me with wonder and confidence in ways I do not understand.

TMink said...

Great post Ann, it really gave me a lot to think about.

Theory number two gets my vote. Brain research about women and men indicates that men tend to have this superior spatial ability and women tend to have a similar superiority in being aware of and interested in their interpersonal surroundings.

Neurologically, men may find it much easier to tune out or not even notice the relational interactions around them. Perhaps that is too strong, but it is certain that most men do not have the facility that most women have in this area.

Trey

paul a'barge said...

Hey C.C! Iron my shirts.

Joan said...

Just yesterday I was looking at my pathetic traffic numbers and deciding, for the 100th time, that it was OK. I decided I'd rather be a teacher than a writer, and since making that decision, blogging has become much less important to me. I know exactly what I could to get more links and traffic (post more often, for one), but my heart's not in it. My blog's purpose now is personal, and if anyone else is helped by what I write, that's a bonus.

I was cracking up reading Ann's theory that women are more inclined to feel guilty about carving out time to sit at the keyboard. I wonder what's wrong with me that I have absolutely no problem doing that! Wait, maybe it's that the rest of my life is arranged so I can: my kids don't expect me to entertain them, and we have plenty of off-keyboard time together anyway. The house is clean enough, and I'm not into meals that take hours to prepare. The evening hours I'm on the computer are often spent companionably with my husband, on his computer.

I agree: no need to whine or make yourself out as a victim. We make the time for the things we want to do. With the obvious exceptions of accident and injury, we all have the lives we want to have.

PatCA said...

"Do something about it!"

Exactly! Haven't we had enough Oprah shows and articles like this one bemoaning the lack of success among women (and blaming it on being too nice)?

Maxine Weiss said...

Unrealistic Expectations:

____________________________

"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...

____________________________


That's not marriage. In a valid marriage, the woman is the one who lures the man. The woman is the one who seduces the man away from what he's doing.

During the courtship, men do the pursing. She holds back until she gets what she wants out of him---marriage. Once she gets that, the mission falls upon to her to use her creativity, (artistic?) skills to keep HIM hooked.

Honey, you'd better start reading The Rules, to find out how a legitimate courtship, and valid marriage is supposed to proceed. These are tried and true, no-fail, methods.

Love,

Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Trooper York said...

Not that I know all that much about it because I have only been married a relatively short time, but I think the secret to a great marriage is to keep it fresh. Have a date night once a week or at least once a month. Do different stuff together. Even if it is just a quiet dinner away from the kids. Run away for a one night cruise. Take a day to go to the museum and have lunch at a little bistro. Surprise you wife and cook her a meal. But most of all your spouse should be your best friend. Someone you want to spend time with, not someone you want to get away from even if it is only to go on the computer.

Oligonicella said...

There are many, many women blogging. If you don't know they are there, you aren't looking. Just checked my bookmarks -- five of nine I visit almost daily are women's blogs. Why aren't there more "female lawprof bloggers"? Same reason there aren't many male lawprof bloggers. It's a rarified field.

Michael_H said...

It's a matter of proportion. The market seems comfortable with the number of female lawprof bloggers. If a market shortage existed, female lawprof bloggers would rush in until the market was in balance.

Why is this discussion limited to blogging? I'd bet that there are precious few female lawprof car customizers. Or female lawprof twin-engine rated private pilots. Or female lawprof spelunkers. Or female lawprof dogsled mushers.


Female lawprofs, like all other people, do what interests them. Stop fretting about the number of female lawprof bloggers and recognize that happiness is found in millions of different ways by millions of different people each following her (or his) own path.

David said...

Ann says:

"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."

Whoopee! Yaay! Wow! Right on! You go, girl! Etc, etc.

This is pretty much what I tried to teach my children, daughters and sons. You can achieve so much more if you focus on the opportunity, not the obstacle. My three daughters climb mountains, ride horses, have babies, teach school, consult for Microsoft, take fabulous photographs, cook great meals, love their men, write beautifully, laugh loud, ski like demons, and generally kick ass (more or less politely) in everything they do. They aren't the best at everything, but they always rank with the gutsiest.

No whining! It's the family motto and it worked well with my fabulous girls (and their brothers).

My females are generally political liberals but they like Sarah Palin because they see a kindred spirit.

Once feminism gets out of the clutches of the oppression obsessed, it will really start cooking.

Freeman Hunt said...

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.

Agreed, though not necessarily with the "do something about it" part. Life is choices. Pick your priorities. If it's a big priority for you to be a prominent blogger, then certainly do something about it. But if after giving it some thought you think, "You know, maybe my family time and other hobbies really are more important to me than blogging right now," then don't change anything. You may not be prominent, but you can write now and then when you have time, and you'll still pick up a small audience.

For everything there is a season. Having young children may be a season for some things and not for others. With time the season changes.

Oh, and I completely reject the idea that getting people to link you is harder for females. Not so, not so.

blake said...

Good looking women have an advantage here, as everywhere.

Not that you can just rest on your [kaff] laurels. You either gotta make with the cheesecake or make with the interest. Preferably both.

write a novel...

I've decided to the NaNoWriMo this year in blog form. So, blogging and writing a novel don't have to be exclusive.

Having solicited suggestions from my few blog readers, I'm now committed to writing a barbarian cowboy sex unicorn yogurt novel.

SGT Ted said...

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.

That and the unspoken implication that mens "disproportionate money earning responsibilities" don't make demands on their blogging time. That professor is a sexist.

vbspurs said...

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.

Instapundit and Ann Althouse are strikingly similar in terms of tone, and mindset. Since Instapundit is an internet juggernaut, we can say he's the "senior" of the two and has done his part in at least helping out Ann as a female law blogger, by linking to shared interests in posts.

The question is, has Ann taken it upon herselt to increase visibility to a female law blogger?

I am not being flippant. My record on blogs is spotty. I check this blog first, and read only a handful of others.

E.G.: Is Amba a lawyer? Nina Camic?

Cheers,
Victoria

William said...

Wow, Many excellent recommendations. Almost all very good.

My wife and I have been traveling for 40 years, thank the Navy for part of that. In recent years here are the favorites.

Northern Ireland, County Antrim, and Wales, Aberystwth, Devil's Bridge.

Banff National Park, Alberta. But go after Labor Day.

South Africa. Fly to Joberg, don't stay unless you have a reason, such as relatives. Then thake the Blue Train to Cape Town. Then drive the Garden Route to Port Elizabeth. Then back to Joberg.

Singapore. Stay on Orchard Road. Enjoy. Take a side trip to Malacca.

Bali, Wonderful. But go with several friends, few Americans visit here. We had a group of five and it was wonderful. Water is a problem. Beer is not.

New Zealand. Spend two weeks on the South Island. Fly to Christchurch, visit Queenstown, the West Coast, Fox Glacier, Hokitito. Take two weeks. Except for the Aukland airport, We've no experience with the North Island.

Make sure you have a reasonable supply of Cipro. Imodium as a last resort.


Read the travel blogs, they're usually good, but, as always, need some reflection.

Water is safe everyplace except Bali (or Korea for that matter). Get a water purifier from REI or some other reputable store.

William said...

Ann,

I've read your blog for several years.

Most of the comments before I don't understand, literally yes, but constructively no.

I'll continue to read it because you strike a core in me (a guy) that gives me an insight into beauty (your photos), you're insight's (you're photos and words)

You, to my read, slightly on the righe. I'm mostly on the right. Irespect you and will continue to read your blog because I learn every day.

Chad said...

I agree with Mary Duziak, although I am neither woman or law professor, my experience is that it is difficult to break out in the blogosphere.

I have been blogging for 4 years and my reader list consists of my mother and people who need something from me at work.

I have learned to accept that what I have to say just isn't that interesting to that many people.

That doesn't stop me from inflicting my opinions on them though. just like here

Rohan said...

I don't really know if it's related to gender. I blog about World of Warcraft. WoW is a videogame and as such, female players are significantly outnumbered by male players.

However, in the WoW blog community, there are many more female bloggers than you would expect.

Maybe it's an age/generation thing, maybe it's a hobby vs career. Maybe it's easier for gamers to link to people than it is for law professors to link. Maybe it's because WoW bloggers tend to write pseudo-anonymously, and that makes it easier, while the law world demands real names and reputations to stand behind the words.

Or maybe male law professors are blowhards and more likely to blog to hear themselves blog than male videogame players. But I'm just pointing WoW out as an example of a male-dominated subculture where the women blog disproportionately *more* than their participation rate.

Mister Snitch! said...

"Why aren't there more female lawprof bloggers?"

Uh, maybe because Glenn Reynolds doesn't, for some unfathomable reason, link to their every utterance without warning his readers where he's sending them?

PM said...

This is applicable beyond lawblogs. I have plugged into the local political blog community here in my state, and aside from being one of about four who are under age 40, I have yet to run into another woman. No, that's not true. I found one. This may be because, like me, I don't blog under my real name or have any pictures or gender-revealing information on my site (other than the occasional post when it is germane), and neither do many others in this same community. The ones who do are all male. I never really noticed or thought about it until I read your post. Now you've got me thinking, and wondering. Thanks.

chickenlittle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
chickenlittle said...

Maybe somebody could help poor old Bernardine Dorhn, associate professor of law at Northwestern, launch a blog. I'm sure she could use the attention.

Richard said...

Carolyn Elefant of http://www.myshingle.com/ is a prolific blogger as well as a mother. The most likely reason that she has not yet been mentioned is because she and her many of her readers are probably attending the ABA GP|Solo 2008 Fall Meeting and National Solo & Small Firm Conference in Albuquerque, NM

Alison M. Kilmartin said...

Marie Reilly, associate dean of Penn State's law school blogs over at Red Lion Reports. She has also made a place for Prof. Beth Farmer there, in addition to two students: Kelly Bozanic and me, Alison Kilmartin. Trust me, you want to hear the Red Lion roar.

http://redlionreports.blogspot.com/

blake said...

Are law blogs in general all that big?

Insty isn't primarily about law.

And Althouse is a law blog like my blog is a tech blog. It's what I do, and occasionally I can go deep, but mostly I just talk about movies 'n' breasts and stuff.

Ann Althouse said...

I think if you only write about law, and you are not doing anything unconventional with it, you won't get very far. Law is important, but the material is in the mainstream press. I read How Appealing, SCOTUSblog, and Volokh, but other than that, I mainly read the news, and I'm very interested in law and in blogs. By what logic do the pure law bloggers think they will build traffic?

blake said...

Exactly.

I don't think there's a big audience out there going: "Wow, I could use some trenchant law analysis right about now. So...male law blogger or female law blogger?"

My Friend has a book blog where she interviews authors, but she uses a more periodical approach, like a magazine more than a blog.

There's probably a Master's thesis in here somewhere.

Paul said...

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.

I don't know that it IS harder for women than for men. Empirically, all we can say with any certainty is that more men than women practice blogging. But Ann's claim ("harder for women") is entirely subjective, and inter-subjective comparisons are tricky at best.

Haven't you heard that a casually cutting remark can render a man sexually impotent? What is the blogosphere, if not a weather system where the forecast always calls for a high probability of cutting-remark blizzards?

Perhaps it's just that fewer women than men are willing to risk those "slings and arrows" of outrageous readers ... ?

Maureen said...

A lot of women academics are probably running Livejournals instead of blogs. Heck, almost all of science fiction fandom and media fandom is over there, and so are most of their friends and their friends' friends.

In fact, I know there's at least one female law academic over there -- used to be in Harry Potter fandom.

Livejournals encourage the use of pseudonyms. There's usually a good amount of transparency -- if you know people, you know who their friends are. But I don't think that searching for "law professor female Livejournal" would get you anywhere. You'd have to get into a circle of law friends.

And that's why Livejournal drives me nuts.... Clique-y. But that's exactly why a lot of women love it.

CC said...

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.)

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.

Thanks for reading the story and sharing your insights!

Best,
C.C. Holland

Sloanasaurus said...
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