Female bloggers: are we taken seriously?

I’ve been blogging on and off for about eight years now. I started at Livejournal, where I keep a blog that is mostly geared towards my friends, and tends to be posted as “friends only”. Trust me, you don’t really care about the stuff I write about there. My Vox is fairly public, and of course I have my food blog and my professional blog. I still feel, quite often, that women as bloggers are not underrepresented (we make up about half of bloggers) but we’re not taken as seriously as our male counterparts. I had a male friend last night who was incredibly surprised that I was miffed that a local article virtually ignored female bloggers– “Does that really matter?” he asked? Yes, it does. Women’s voices are often ignored (as this article details), and we really aren’t taken as seriously. Though there are tons of successful female food bloggers (Accidental Hedonist, I’m looking at you), it’s still a bit of a boys’ club. Most lists of prominent bloggers nearly ignore female bloggers, but shouldn’t for much longer: mom bloggers are a huge demographic (and quite vocal), women are becoming more prominent in political blogging– we’re becoming more prominent in all areas of the blogosphere.

Maybe I’m just on a high of connecting with so many bloggers (though some may consider it self-congratulatory, knowing you’re not alone in your interests or pursuits is pretty important), but what do you think– women bloggers, do you feel ignored?

ETA: Jezebel and The F Word (UK) both had some interesting things to say. Salon’s Broadsheet did too.

clipped from www.nytimes.com

Blogging’s Glass Ceiling

Blogging has come a long way from its modest beginnings. These days, there is money to be made, fame to be earned and influence to be gained. And though women and men are creating blogs in roughly equal numbers, many women at the conference were becoming very Katie Couric about their belief that they are not taken as seriously as their male counterparts at, say, Daily Kos, a political blog site. Nor, they said, were they making much money, even though corporations seem to be making money from them.

Other prominent female bloggers who did not attend the BlogHer conference agreed that there are unique challenges that women in the blogosphere face. “Women get dismissed in ways that men don’t,” said Megan McArdle, an associate editor at The Atlantic Monthly who writes a blog about economic issues.

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20 thoughts on “Female bloggers: are we taken seriously?”

  • I’ve really never thought about it, honestly. I really just like to do it for my own amusement and therapy.

    Although, I DO think that my blog serves more of a female audience (topics of motherhood, wife, fashion, and other such things), but yours is more of a gender-neutral subject of food and restaurant.

  • I don’t think female bloggers are taken as seriously as they should, but its the normal bullshit.

    I think it was interesting when i saw an interview with Tori Amos (ha, of course I would bring her up), and the guy said “Is your music like therapy?” and she leaned over and said “Would you ask a man that? If its coming from a woman, its therapy, but if its coming from a man, he’s poet!” I think this misconception of women=emotional and not intellectual and men=logical and “passionate” remains.

    Of course, when a blogger such as yourself ventures into something as “boys club” as food blogging, of course there’s going to be backlash. Men feel very threatened when women do something well that they thought was exclusively theirs. Sad, but true. For the gender that runs the world, they can be pretty insecure little boys sometimes.

    As for meeting other bloggers being “self-congratulatory”, well, that’s shit. I’ve “met” many wonderful people through blogging and meeting some of them IRL would be awesome. Its like meeting friends for a cocktail. What’s so awful about that?

    anyway, this was ranty. But you keep doing what you do and forget the haters. As I said to you this afternoon – only people who are at once terribly insecure and insufferably arrogant would criticize you for what you are doing. I stand by that.

  • Kim– I’m wondering if there are “male-oriented” topics. I think of things that are stereotypically male that still interest women, but few things stereotypically female that interest men.

    Kari– SUCH a good point. Blogging for women=therapy, blogging for men=communicating.

    I must say that I have felt very few haters, that most everyone (even if they disagree with my opinion) thinks I do a good job. I know PLENTY of women bloggers who are “just” mom bloggers or “just” fashion bloggers. No one would say someone is “just” a sports blogger, you know?

  • It was nice meeting you Saturday morning!

    I wasn’t taken seriously as a business owner (could be because I was a young female) so to not be taken seriously as a female blogger is no surprise. If I wanted to be a big time blogger, this would be the fuel for my fire to figure out what I need to do to trounce on boys town! 😉

  • Andi– nice to meet you too! Do you think that had something to do with your choice of business? Then again, would a female mechanic be taken seriously? We have, as they say, come a long way, baby– but we still have further to go.

  • And my response (duplicated on Drew’s blog):

    Thanks for your response! I totally agree that content should be king– er, queen– but, unfortunately, I don’t think everyone is as progressive as you are. 🙂 That content may be fantastic, but for some people– still– if it comes from a woman, it’s not always looked on with as much seriousness as if it came from a man. When was the last time you got a comment criticizing your outfit or appearance and not your content? Look at the ’08 Democratic primary: some people wouldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton for president, even though she was arguably more qualified than Obama for the sole reason that she was a woman. Journalists– non bloggers and bloggers alike– commented on her “emotionality” and her clothing– but you’d never hear that about the male candidates. Then again, some people won’t vote for Obama because he’s black.

    As far as bloggers being taken as seriously as journalists? I think that the wheat will always separate from the chaff, and the good bloggers will (hopefully) stay around and get better and the ones that aren’t won’t. Newspapers are losing circulation and people don’t trust the media like they used to– gone are the days of the anchors-as-father-figures– and slowly, well-researched, blog-based journalism is gaining a lot of headway. I think it’ll be interesting who gets the scoop in the election– traditional journalists or bloggers.

    Certainly, the blogosphere (man, do I hate that word) is in its infancy, and I doubt it will ever entirely replace newspapers and books (I refuse to read ebooks, personally), but I think that there’s room for both the serious blog journalist AND the person who wants to write about their puppies and weekends. That’s the beauty of the web– there’s always been a place for everyone (and man, we do mean everyone…).

  • You know, I think that I have gotten quite a bit of recognition for my blog, and when I think about food bloggers, most of the ones who are recognized are women–Kate from the Accidental Hedonist, and Pim of Chez Pim are some of the best-known food bloggers out there.

    I don’t tend to get sexist comments on my blog–if people disagree with me, even when I am snarky, they tend to be respectful. Every now and then I get someone who tries intimidation tactics based on my gender, and that usually causes me to open up a big old can of verbal whuppass.

    As for other blog topics–yeah, when it comes to political blogging, women tend to be relegated to a pink ghetto, but I think that is starting to change.

    The Tori Amos quote, though, is quite telling and I think she handled it well.

    I don’t blog for therapy, I blog because I am a writer and chef, and blogging takes care of both of my interests perfectly. And the folks who read my blog don’t see what I do as just emotional–most folks note my well-reasoned, rational arguments when it comes to my essays and posts on topics like food politics.

    Though, I do think I have more female readers than male these days. Or at least, more female commentors…..

  • Barbara– I tend to have a slightly male skewed commenter base, but that could be because I started this blog and initially promoted the blog via Cincinnati Blog, which has mostly male commenters. I'm definitely starting to get more women as commenters. I don't care who comments– everyone eats, right? I think everyone can have an opinion on it.

    From the additional reading I've been doing, it seems that women outside of the food world seem to get dismissed, particularly in politics, economics, and sometimes business. I think one area where women are getting a LOT of press are parenting/mom blogs. They get a ton of attention from marketers and PR people and even news outlets. For the longest time< I thought BlogHer was strictly a mom bloggers conference.

    I'm so glad you commented, Barbara. I've been reading your blog for a while and love your style (and raged with you against CI/ATK just recently). I am glad the tide is beginning to change and that I have such great bloggers (you, Kate, others) to be inspired by!

  • Julie,

    Did you have the opportunity to speak with Liz Wu at the bloggers convention? She wrote the article for Soapbox.

  • First let me say for the record that I dig chicks.

    I think quality is what matters. It may not get noticed right away but eventually quality cannot be ignored.

    I think it’s a mistake to generalize based on a few examples. There are many more examples of women succeeding in traditionally male areas. Blogwise, consider Wonkette, Huffington Post, Michelle Malkin, and Majikthise to name a few.

    What about business writer (and Pulitzer winner) Gretchen Morgensen? How about Nina Totenberg? The staff of PBS’s NewsHour? CNBC World has several business themed shows staffed by women. These are traditionally male areas but these women excel in their jobs and are taken seriously.

    And let’s be honest: some blogs are just bad. Some female writers are bad. Some female politicians are bad. It’s not sexist to say it. I know one female blogger who rejected all criticism of Hillary Clinton as sexist.

    One area where women are not taken as seriously is sports reporting. Buy it cannot be denied that they are commonplace as sports reporters. The truth is most of them are awful and everyone knows it. But the good ones ARE taken seriously because they’re good. Mary Carillo (tennis) is a good example.

    That’s my opinion but I’m a guy so nobody probably cares what I think which makes me want to cry like a girl.

  • WestEnder: You’re progressive and in touch with your feminine side. I like that in a man!

    I think Kari’s point that women can be successful but often things are asked/assumed/etc. of or about women that are never asked/assumed/etc. of or about men. That bothers me.

    Are women not taken seriously as sportswriters because there’s a history of them being simply “eye candy” and not serious reporters? This is a real question: I know next to nothing about sports reporting (which is so stereotypical, isn’t it?).

  • I keep feeling mischievous and wanting to leave some random extreme sexist/chauvinist comment just to get lambasted by you all.

    Something beavis and butthead-ish, but I’d probably get banned from commenting here thereafter 🙂

    I can only say this: for me, content is king, and it really does not matter to me which set of reproductive organs you have….and frankly, especially when the talk is of food, I’d rather not hear about them (as I did in another rlocal food blog in the very recent past)

    Good writing is good writing.

    Good content is good content.

    Topical aside: I know of at LEAST two female bloggers who parlayed their blog fame into a real paying job – restaurant girl and the girl who ate everything, both in NYC.

  • re: sports reporters

    Short answer: yes.

    Long answer: Yes, but it’s not because there aren’t good women available. I think TV producers orient coverage to appeal to the sports fan who is most likely to buy advertisers’ products, and that is the stereotypical beer-drinking dumb ass.

    So the men do the analysis and the women provide the eye-candy. It’s a classic case of a marketplace decision that results in a lower quality product that sells better than a high quality product.

    If you want to see the eye candy situation taken to a truly absurd level, watch Jillian Reynolds on FOX NFL Sunday. Her job is to dress, talk and behave like a total bimbo. Trust me, it will make you sick.

  • This is probably one of the things that as a man living in a mans world, I’m not qualified to comment on but if it makes you feel any better when I talked to Liz Wu she seemed totally clueless about the blog scene. Typical reporting, do some superficial research, throw out some buzz words and publish your story. And I have to say I thought that thinking a guy wrote the story, then she told me she wrote it.
    But as for personal blogs, how seriously is anyone really taken? And technical blogs? I judge them all the same, but I’m weird so you may have a valid point across the general population.
    I must say, I love The Girl Who Ate Everything.
    I’m the boy who ate everything.
    As long as it didn’t touch anything else on the plate.
    And was white.
    And not squishy.

  • We let women vote; I think we should leave it at that. I really don’t think women are suited for politics, business, etc. If there were decent money or political power in mopping, washing dishes, cleaning, etc, then women might be taken more seriously.

  • Julie, Have you heard of Liz Strauss? She has a cool Open Mike on Tuesday nights. Tonight’s open mike theme is “trolls”. Just saw that last comment from anonymous – you might like to start with that one.
    http://www.successful-blog.com/ 7PM Chicago time.

  • Linda– I firmly believe that you haven’t arrived as a blogger until you’ve had your first troll. I arrived a few months ago, but they keep me on my toes!

    I’ll check that out. Maybe I’ll call in!

  • I’m late to the game here. I can’t say that I’ve encountered too much sexism in blogging (admittedly a side gig) or in writing/journalism (my day job). But, I think it’s always a topic worth discussing, and wouldn’t be surprised to see it happen more to women who cover typically male-dominated topics.

    I think BlogHer sounded amazing and fun and interesting and I was totes jealous of my friends that got to go, but… I wonder if we’re doing ourselves a bit of a disservice with things like hanging “You Are Perfect” notes on stalls at a women’s-oriented conference.

    I think it takes away from what the conference is–a meeting of hundreds of incredibly influential women–and makes it all the more difficult to be taken seriously. But, that’s just my two cents. I’ve never been a “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” kind of feminist.

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