April DeConick has resurrected the spectre of female bibliobloggers, and she’s confident that the issue “has nothing to do with the area of [biblical] study”. Here I think she’s largely right.
As I explained years ago, men are a biologically self-aggrandizing lot, and it’s really no surprise to see them dominating certain areas of the blogosphere. In many contexts we have strong impulses to make ourselves look good (while women tend to like making others feel good), and the blog is a perfect venue for self-aggrandizement. Women evidently don’t care to draw attention to themselves as much (or at least in the same way) as men do. I’m not saying that blogs serve the sole purpose of feeding our male egos — we blog for very positive reasons too — but it sure has a lot to do with it.
When April insists that “women are great talkers and…love to talk about their spirituality and religious traditions”, she’s absolutely right. My experience has been the same. But talking among friends and acquaintances is different from blogging. It’s a more colloquial and egalitarian enterprise, less preachy, and less grandstanding. When we blog, we have the floor, and — the invitation of comments not withstanding — it’s a monologue more than a conversation.
One of my commenters had pointed out something else, that men have stronger inclinations to “spend inordinate amounts of time in front of their computers”, knowing from his job experience “that female software developers are vastly outnumbered by males though their work is just as good if not better”. So that’s probably another important difference.
April won’t like any of this, because believe it or not, she thinks there actually are as many women bibliobloggers out there as men. They’re just “invisible”: they post on marginal subjects and are thus easily dismissed as unimportant. I share the skepticism of The Biblioblog Top 50 about this claim — in fact I’m damn near positive it isn’t the case — though with April I reject the Top-50’s idea that a “deeper, structural religious bias towards male authority” lies behind the discrepancy.
As with software engineers, women bibliobloggers are obviously just as competent, intelligent, and talented as the men (many of them more so). And they bring important ideas to the table that men can miss. I second Mark Goodacre’s suggestion to encourage more women to blog, but I don’t think we should be terribly surprised at the inevitable skewed ratios. We know there are inherent differences between the sexes, and the dearth of female bibliobloggers simply reflects some of them.
UPDATE: The Biblioblog Top 50 (who is of course N.T. Wrong, who is of course…) warns against blaming victims and getting into bed with “c-s” — complimentarians, though a certain vulgarity is obviously intended at the same time. I do get a chortle out of Wrong’s obsession with Balaam and the donkey from Num 22:21-35, which he has used before to hilarious effect.