More conversation on women in the blogosphere
A good post from Melissa on the scarcity of women in the theology blogosphere, with a good comment thread, too. Obviously the deck is stacked somehow, but I confess I’m mystified as to exactly how. We’ve repeatedly tried and failed to recruit any of the women in the department to write for Memoria Dei, but generally for perfectly predictable reasons, reasons that often tempt me to abandon blogging too—the professional risks involved in “publishing” unpolished work, the time commitment involved, the kind of emotional energy it takes to argue still-unformed points with strangers… Nothing that obviously flags a gender differential. My own suspicion is that the explanation is to be found on the other end, not in what keeps women from blogging but in what drives men to blog. I’ve definitely noticed that I’m more immediately comfortable sparring in public than many (not all) of my female colleagues, more undeservedly confident in how interesting my own lines of research will be to others, etc.
I’ve not really given this question the time it deserves, but it’s an extremely important one for any estimation of the long-term value of academic blogging. It’s my belief that blogging could fill some important scholarly needs. It could provide a space between casual conversation among friends and the official settings of a conference or a journal; it could leave scholars in more control of their work; it could sometimes eliminate the lag-time between writing and publication, making possible more productive conversation between scholars; it could open doors for serious interdisciplinary, inter-institutional, international collaboration. But if it gives new life to a good old boy network of the kind finally dying off the in the physical halls of academia (more slowly in theology than elsewhere), and if it only runs on the fuel of men’s overblown self-perception, blogging is not going to be any good to anyone.