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[Meta] Homogenity on ET?

by JakeS Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 07:21:07 PM EST

One of the subthreads in this story turned towards a meta-discussion about gender culture on ET. This discussion has cropped up several times in the past, and I have usually avoided partaking in it, for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons is that it usually turns into a flame war, and my insurance stopped covering asbestos suit replacements after I began frequenting YouTube comment threads. Something about wilfully subjecting myself to avoidable risks, or somesuch insurance-speak.

However, to quote myself,

When you have a (set of) topic(s) that are overwhelmingly discussed by either gender, it does not seem irrelevant to ask why this is, and whether the reasons should prompt a change in site policy or culture.

[...]

If the entire community is composed mostly of one gender/skin colour/socioeconomic group, a little introspection might be in order.

It's not that homogeneity is necessarily evidence that something is wrong - there may be a variety of entirely acceptable reasons (or at least reasons that are beyond the power of the editors to change). But it should be cause for some introspection on a not too irregular basis.

It was correctly pointed out that a meta diary would be a suitable venue to have such a discussion. It was also pointed out that if I objected to the tone of the currently available example of said meta-diary, ET comes with a perfectly functional diary submission form.

This seems like a reasonable request, so here we go.


Since the prospect of having actual data in a discussion tends to focus the mind wonderfully, I decided to run some numbers on the comment thread that triggered the current iteration of the debate.

While my pidgin analysis1 can't tell whether the comment thread in question displayed genuine overrepresentation of male commenters,2 it is possible to draw some conclusions. Specifically, at least one of the following must be true:

  1. There is an overrepresentation of males in the active ET commenters.

  2. There is a subset of topics covered by ET which display a heavy overrepresentation of males relative to the overall distribution of commenters. (I only have one example on hand, but unequal representation tends to be like cockroaches - if you see one, you can bet the farm that there's more where it came from.)

In the case of a general underrepresentation in the commenters, I think it is worthwhile to ask ourselves as a community whether our culture, style and/or editorial policies make it unnecessarily difficult to recruit female commenters.

Of course it is also possible that the broader Euro-American culture, from which ET draws its membership, socialises women to participate less in wonkish discussions of economics and foreign policy than men. Which would be regrettable but unfortunately beyond the scope of the ET community to materially change.

In the case of underrepresentation in certain topics relative to the ET distribution, it is more difficult to imagine that broader social issues are to blame, because the ET'ers have already self-selected towards wonkish types interested in energy policy, economics and foreign policy. In that case, it is easier to imagine that something about the way the ET community handles the subjects in question is to blame. (Although spillover from the broader society is not wholly impossible - on some issues, the well may have been poisoned sufficiently in the public discourse as to discourage participation by some groups.)

[Edit: Poll added to try to get some more data. (Thanks to Fran for suggesting it.)]

- Jake

1Because I am lazy, I used a simple null hypothesis that commenters in a given thread are picked at random from all active contributors, and that the total number of active contributors is large compared to the number of commenters in any given thread (this latter assumption is the lazy one, because I didn't want to have to guesstimate the number of active ET'ers).

For any given gender ratio of ET regulars, this gives a simple binomial distribution with which to evaluate the likelihood of the null hypothesis.

Using a 5 % significance threshold, the thread in question gives reason to reject the null hypothesis if the male:female ratio of ET regulars is less than roughly 70:30 (if the meta-subthread is discounted, the threshold ratio goes to roughly 80:20).

Since I don't know what the gender distribution among active ET commenters is (though judging by the meetups, a 3:1 male:female ratio is not beyond the scope of the imagination), this doesn't by itself permit me to accept or reject the null hypothesis for the comment thread in question.

2As an aside, this illustrates one of the rhetorical advantages of having data in the discussion: "I neither wish to accuse the diary of gender bias nor exonerate it" is a cop-out. "I am unable to unambiguously retain or reject the null hypothesis based on the available data" is being careful ;-P

Poll
Your Gender
. Male 80%
. Female 17%
. Other 0%
. Abstain 2%

Votes: 35
Results | Other Polls
Display:
I'll be taking this as a data point for my theory that it's impossible to have a meta diary about any subject without fisticuffs and pie slinging - even on ET.

But - let's see what happens.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 07:43:40 PM EST
You are all wrong.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 07:48:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, you are :)

(writing this from North America, so I'm on the other side)...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 10:07:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nuh-uh!  You are!

(Where are you at?)

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 06:57:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
please note level and tenor of discussion prior to entry by first female, ed

:>)

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Feb 5th, 2010 at 05:29:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That observation works only once per month.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 09:42:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for bringing up this topic, Jake!

I just thought, maybe you could add a poll asking the readers for their gender.

by Fran on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 01:27:59 AM EST
Good idea. Thanks.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 05:19:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ET certainly doesn't compare, genderwise, with my working life in Finnish media. The majority of ad agency account execs I work for (and with) are women, my voiceover agent is a woman, the art directors I like to work with regularly are about 60/40 female to male. And the representatives of end clients (corporate communications people) that I meet are mostly female (although this may be a result of gender affinity between account execs and clients). BTW I am rarely involved in marketing consumer products and services.

Only in film production and the art world do I find myself talking fairly exclusively to men. Interestingly, stills photographers are about 50/50.

All of this seems fairly unremarkable to a Finn. And AFAIK there are no salary differentials. The same skills are paid the same.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 02:21:38 AM EST
That's great, but I'd have thought your marketing knowhow would have suggested to you that the subset of workers in Finnish media that you frequent is only tangentially relevant to the subset of Internet users interested in participating on politics/economics/environment discussion sites.

In other words, interesting (and heartening) as your comment is, what's your point?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 03:15:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No point - just a comparison. If you want a point, it's that politics/economics/environment (among other subjects) are regular parts of enthusiastic contextual discussions we have on behalf of or with clients - which might indicate there is no lack of interest in the subjects, at least F2F. I have frequently mentioned ET in these discussions, but afaik, none of my colleagues have been inspired sufficiently to post a comment.

There could be a number of reasons for this - not least, language.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 09:02:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, language is another kind of problem. And the existence of national political, cultural, media arenas. It's very far from axiomatic that Europeans are interested in a discussion site that isn't part of their identifiable cultural sphere -- even when they can speak English enough to read or comment. There is no pan-European cultural space.

Beyond Eurovision.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 01:02:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
afew:
In other words, interesting (and heartening) as your comment is, what's your point?

what a male thing to ask, in such a male way!

(only a few comments in, i can tell this thread is going to be fun, thanks jake)

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Feb 5th, 2010 at 05:32:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Though it's sometimes impossible to know who is male or female behind a nick, it seems incontestable that there are far more males than females in the ET membership and in the actively commenting membership.

It seems likely, though, that this is generally true of blogs that feature debate on topics such as politics and economics. I attempted a little over a year ago to find some data on it. I didn't go through fully in this search, and I haven't time now to update these references:

Blog gender theories.

Here is a longer study (pdf) using language analysis. I haven't read it all, but there's an interesting part on pages 3 and 4 about preferred topics of men and women.

This is rather different, but may throw light. It's a gender distribution study for the major social networks (where we see twice as many women as men).

This is a Pew report on gender differences in (American) Internet use.

The picture I got from this (though others may draw different conclusions) was that political blogs get a M-F distribution of maybe 70-30, while social networks see the order inversed.

Please don't take this for an "everything's all right" claim. It's just an attempt at offering some light-shedding data and discussion from outside ET. Again, it's from 2008 so it's not fresh out of the fridge.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 02:57:49 AM EST
inversed reversed

<note to self: stop speaking French>

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 03:01:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Though it's sometimes impossible to know who is male or female behind a nick,

For most of the active commenters we do know.

Please don't take this for an "everything's all right" claim. It's just an attempt at offering some light-shedding data and discussion from outside ET.

Data is always good.

Unfortunately, I have no time to dig into the substance right now - I have to go and catch a train, and probably won't have internet over the weekend.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 05:44:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd like to see more alternative views, I think it's easy for any particular forum(in the broader sense) to group think, or at least drive away disbelievers.  I like that some contributors are willing to stick to their 'guns' (for example santiago usually has a different view on economics to others here I find refreshing and non-trivial and more importantly, makes other explain their position more clearly).

I don't think many women are interested in economics and bridge blogging.  My wife is a somewhat regular reader but has never been inspired to post, yet she's got a strong following in other fora where she talks about knitting and quilting and breast cancer.  And there they worry about the sex bias being too strongly female.

Simiarly, engineering and mathematical university courses are pleased when they get more than 1 woman a year enrolling :)

by njh on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 07:15:29 AM EST
Yes, I was going to mutter something about the nerdy technocratic nature of the site, especially as we get more economics orientated, which tends to self-select for male-ish interests and attitudes.

But I prefer your way of saying it.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 08:37:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd actually quite like to celebrate the nerdy technocratic nature of the blog.

There's a danger, when this sort of question is raised, of devaluing the content we have. There are indeed, a lot of discussions on subjects that I don't know much about, often by people who do it as their day job.  And often I don't comment on those threads, because I feel I have nothing to add.

But...so what? This is a group blog.  It so happens that it tends towards disciplines that are still male-dominated, but this is an issue to do with wider society, not the fault of ET and definitely not the fault of men for posting here, or experts for posting at their level.

We're actually doing quite well for female diaries at the moment.  Fran is using the time freed from the salon to huge advantage, and we've had great diaries from Izzy and Cat.  If there's an imbalance in ET's content, then it's really up to those of us who don't post very often (I'm one of the worst offenders, I know).

The worst thing that could happen as a result of this sort of meta is that men feel their style and content is driving away some sort of mythical ideal demographic and self-censor or stop posting altogether.  Women will come, or they won't.  But if they come, they'll come for content that interests them, not a dumbed down version of content that doesn't.  Or no content at all.

by Sassafras on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 01:55:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I'm here too and for similar reasons : I'm interested in this stuff about how the world works even if an increasing amount of the finance/economics flies right over my head. I feel informed just sticking my ear on the pipes.

I think the issue is one of light and shade. This is a liberal leftish political blog with a concentration on trans-atlantic geo- politics, so there's a lot of serious discussion about such issues. As is right and proper.

But as a group of peope who know each other there is a temptation to open up and branch out into other, more personal, territories on occasion. Sometimes this works and broadens the scope of what can be beneficially written about. It is these more personal aspects that lighten the blog, yet they are also the most fraught when the alliances we have formed are shown to more fragile and less well founded than we thought.

After all, dKos has little light and shade, the small corners of personal stuff such as the pootie diaries are heavily contested and always re-negotiated. But their user base is larger than ours and only the thickest skinned need apply. Here we can't afford to piss regulars off on a regular basis so we hold back a bit. And that's why the OT is the most valuable resource we have, it's the only area where we socialise and chat rather than discuss and debate.

So if you don't visit the OT, but look for the personal diaries, then this appears to be an austere unwelcoming place.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 02:24:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I've been thinking about what you said about the emotional aspects.  Only once have I written a deeply personal  (and very female) diary, but I couldn't bring myself to post it.  Essentially, my immune system didn't go for my liver first.  It went for my hair, and the diary, called "Looking disfigurement in the face", was written at a time when the alopecia (I still find it hard to write "baldness") was spreading daily and I literally couldn't face the mirror.  I kept track of it by the sick thud of my heart when I examined my hairbrush in the morning, as I pushed my shame under a hat.

But I couldn't post it.  Probably I couldn't have done anyway, but to a degree it felt like lobbing a grenade into a garden party.  That probably says more about my own stereotypes and prejudices as anything, but it did feel like a subject to which men might find it difficult to respond, and it seemed almost cruel to post it in a mostly male online environment. So I kept it, and rewrote it, and restrained it. And a month after that my hair started to grow back, and it was over.

But then, as you say, there's light, shade, and many options in between.

by Sassafras on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 04:34:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My heart goes out. I often wonder how your'e doing, not physically, but psychically. And I think you have a story to tell now that perhaps it's becoming water under the bridge, but I undestand why maybe you hold off.

I've done some personal stuff here and I look back and wonder how I did it. Then I think I trusted ET more than I do now, I think that's probably something we've all been through and i'm not sure we're better for it.

I have stories I need to tell about some of the stuff i'm going through, after all, as someone once asked, how do I know what to think until I find the words to say it ? I am wordless and carrying a sack of ashes till I can dump it down. But is this the time ? Is this the place ?

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 05:23:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Helen, I hope you will post again, I always found your diaries very special.
by Fran on Sat Jan 30th, 2010 at 01:20:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't tell you what to do with that sack of ashes, Helen.  I'm not very good with my own. There has indeed been a psychic price to pay for what happened at the end of 2008, and, the heavier it's been, the more determined I've been to carry it alone.

What I will say, though, as much to me as to you: if not here, if not now, then where? When? x

by Sassafras on Sat Jan 30th, 2010 at 08:17:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Re: personal stuff

I submit it is wise to remember that any blog is essentially a Public Space where conversation is easily "overheard" and not forgotten; thus available at any time to people one would not want to have knowing personal stuff.

Second, the medium is so prone to mis-communication of intent, content, and tone that I, for one, tend to shy away from commenting on 'personal' diaries & comments.


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sat Jan 30th, 2010 at 02:09:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry to hear what you went through and also sorry that you didn't post the diary, but I can undertand why you didn't. It would have been enriching for us all. :-)
by Fran on Sat Jan 30th, 2010 at 01:20:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There have been diaries here about personal problems and trials, and they have always been received with sympathy and respect, including by men. They don't happen often -- perhaps fortunately, because we hope harrowing experiences don't fall too often to ETers' lot -- but they are not considered as off topic or an embarrassing intrusion.

I can understand why you found it hard to post your diary, Sassafras, but it's a pity because (apart from its "cathartic" usefulness to you in getting you to put your situation and feelings into words) you would probably have found you had the warm support of this community, and that might conceivably have been of some small comfort to you. Just as, when your difficulties in real life take you away from us, you are missed and thought of -- including by men.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Jan 30th, 2010 at 02:31:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you, afew.  It's no reflection on the men on this forum that I preferred not to post.  Oddly, it's precisely because I know difficulties are treated with sympathy and respect that I'm reluctant to worry people...

And...it was such a small thing, really. I reminded myself daily that on the day I had to sit and cry in the doctor's car park before driving home, thousands of other people had probably done the same.  And that most of them would have swapped places with me in a heartbeat.  It even had its upside;  I've never been a confident dresser, but that was The Summer I Wore Hats  :).  All of this was in the diary, and maybe I should have posted it.  But the time has passed.

by Sassafras on Sat Jan 30th, 2010 at 08:03:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
sassafras, i'd like to slip in here and tell you i'm so glad you're 'here', your input is invaluable.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Feb 5th, 2010 at 05:39:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ditto.
by njh on Fri Feb 5th, 2010 at 05:20:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nerdy and technocratic I can live with. More than that, it's one of the reasons we have such remarkably high signal-to-noise ratio.

It is possible that "nerdy and technocratic" means that our target audience has some biases (in, e.g., gender ratios) that are beyond our power to change. I can live with that too - we work with the internet we have, not the one we'd like.

I just prefer that this is a conclusion that we arrived at after considering the facts, rather than an excuse that we invoke because it's comfortable.

(Turns out I did have internet access after all, albeit intermittently.)

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 06:18:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
njh:

Simiarly, engineering and mathematical university courses are pleased when they get more than 1 woman a year enrolling :)

isn't it strange how in the middle east the woman/man ratio in science/engineering is 70/30% in favour of women?

i find it fascinating. i think women bloggers are really active in iran, from what i pick up here and there, no citation, sorry.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Feb 5th, 2010 at 05:41:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's amazing!  I wonder how they do it? (the obvious MSM counter is that the west is soooo much betterer at engineering)
by njh on Fri Feb 5th, 2010 at 05:20:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is something of an exaggeration to claim that science and engineering courses are devoid of women across the board. There are branches of computer science and mathematics where that is almost the case, but there are branches of biology where the gender distribution is around 60/40 in the other direction.

When you aggregate all science and engineering, I would be surprised if The WestTM didn't come in somewhere between a 60/40 and an 80/20 male/female ratio.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Feb 8th, 2010 at 08:54:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the reason why I didn't comment on the burka ban in France was that I have repeated my arguments on the burka exhaustively when we were discussing the Turkish ban 15 months ago. I was as sick of repeating myself as everybody else was of reading it.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 08:40:07 AM EST
I didn't see it.  I'm a single parent without internet access during the working day, and I just don't have time to read everything.

Even if I had, I work in the Muslim community and I'm a bit burqa'ed out.

by Sassafras on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 11:43:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
btw, for the purposes of the vote I'm female, but fully accpet thathe cultural biases I bring to the table are male.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 02:26:51 PM EST
Your first and second points reinforce each other.  

An "over representation of males" will tend to direct the conversation to "topics covered by ET which display a heavy over representation of males."   In other words, guys tend to talk about guy stuff as guys talk about guy stuff.  And the same goes the other way 'round: gals talk about gal stuff as gals talk about gal stuff.

To a certain extent women tend to be better than men at cross-gender communication as female brains have more cross-wiring to/from brain nuclei than male brains thus can verbalize a greater totality of brain/mind activity than males.  

Compensating - if that's the word I want - male brain/minds to a certain extent have an easier time concentrating on the immediate via abstraction.

Naturally the above two paragraphs says nothing about particular individuals nor do they place a Value (Good/Bad) about the differences.

Looking at social interaction, one can start to glimpse why females tend to feel "comfortable" when the communication style is more 'I think,' 'I feel,' 'She said that ...'  Whereas as males feel "comfortable" in a 'the function of the Ruling Class is ...' and so on style.  Again, this says nothing about particular individuals nor do they place a Value (Good/Bad) about the differences.

The communication style of a blog as well as the topics found on a blog naturally - has to - reflect the preferred gender communication style of the majority of the commentors.  To build a readership among The Other ;-) topics and styles appropriate to that gender have to be present and active.  

In other words, to increase female readership of ET there has to be content and discussion females want to read about and feel 'comfortable' to participate in.

(How's THAT for a stunning insight!  ;-)

I note, mixing the two styles in a single diary is a recipe for confusion, mis-communication, pie fighting, & so on.  Maybe we need a F/M "flag" for diaries and threads?

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 03:16:23 PM EST
Your first and second points reinforce each other.  
An "over representation of males" will tend to direct the conversation to "topics covered by ET which display a heavy over representation of males."   In other words, guys tend to talk about guy stuff as guys talk about guy stuff.  And the same goes the other way 'round: gals talk about gal stuff as gals talk about gal stuff.

But not necessarily relative to the composition of our (self-selected) audience.

Essentially, my second point contains the implicit assumption that "ET regular" is in every ordinary case an overwhelmingly more powerful predictor of behaviour than gender.

If this is true, which is of course open to some debate, a strong asymmetry in the response to and coverage of certain subjects would indicate not that they were "guy topics" or "gal topics" but some kind of divide in the community. Which may or may not be a bad thing - but should not be left entirely unexamined...

Or it may be taken to falsify the assumption. But, again, that's the comfortable result. So I'd prefer to be able to be reasonably confident that I'm not just picking it because it's the comfortable one.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 06:43:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... my second point contains the implicit assumption that "ET regular" is in every ordinary case an overwhelmingly more powerful predictor of behaviour than gender.

If this is true, which is of course open to some debate, a strong asymmetry in the response to and coverage of certain subjects would indicate not that they were "guy topics" or "gal topics" but some kind of divide in the community.

This is, in a way, exactly where my thesis falls apart.  ;-)

I agree there is, in fact, no such things as purely "guy topic" or "gal topic."  If there was then no guy would ever be active in nurturing and no gal would be out swapping spark plugs in her truck.  But there are strong tendencies for certain topics to divide along gender.  Nobody, that I know of, is completely sure why that is.  To some degree - how much?  who knows - is cultural; to some degree - how much? who knows - is physical; to some degree - how much?  who knows - is some combination of cultural and physical.  

Be all that as it may, in our culture topics such as economics and politics, the major focus at ET, are assigned to the male gender and, generally, it's a statistically safe bet anyone discussing politics or economics on a blog is a man.  If this site was focused on knitting it would be a statistically safe bet a poster would be a woman.  

Be THAT as it may, the one substantive thing ET does offer a woman interested and knowledgeable in economics and politics is gender anonymity.  Men really do, up close and in person, devalue women in all kinds of subtle and no so subtle ways.  (The historical cringe inducing "find me a chick to do some typing" immediately leaps to mind.)  Unless a poster "outs" herself we don't know what TEU345 looks like and so we - male and female alike - have to "deal with" what TEU345 (actually) says.  

Which, I have observed, is a sometime-thing in F2F communication.

Thus & therefore, I disagree there is a "divide in the community" per se as regards to the topics discussed while hastening to add there is - to some degree - a divide in the way the topics are discussed and, perhaps, the way topics are valued. (?)

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sat Jan 30th, 2010 at 01:56:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
very astute comment, AT.

one of the things i like about the internet is that ideas travel unharnessed by gender and ego, or can do.

of this kind of cyber-castalia is a chimera, because we are affected subtly by enculturation and gender is a big part of that.

in this 'pure idea' realm it gets pretty colourless, and our human curiosity desires to flesh out the narrative of pure ideas with some human distortion, like with sound, digital being unearthly in some way.

ambiguous comment? yup.

i like it when the blog teeters on intellectual, gender-irrelevant highwires, and i like it when it falls off, how's that?

great discussion, in epic ET style.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Feb 5th, 2010 at 05:49:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm sorry if this seems OT and/or petty, but the use of "male" and "female" as nouns is something that bothers me terribly.

I admit this is more a visceral than a reasoned response, but these terms seem so species-independent: "males" and "females" could just as easily be hamsters or lab rats as human beings.

I much prefer talking about "men" and "women", particularly as these terms (to my mind anyway) imply personhood, adulthood and all that goes with them.

But again, that's just me.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Sat Jan 30th, 2010 at 11:10:23 AM EST
I suppose I'm responding merely to lodge another perspective. It's not my intention to pose an adversarial position to your preference.

re: species neutral diction

M and F and I refer to sex traits, ergo reproductive capacities of a subject at maturity. I can think of few instances of political significance, in either private or public arena, that do not derive from factional determination and control of sexual reproductive capacity. In other words, these assignment AND identification is a functional value.

"Man" and "woman" are gender assignments of speech laden with meanings, apart from syntactical agreement. On this we agree, identification of a subject (or object) with either assignment "implies" a lot more about the subject articulated than its sex to speakers/hearers. In other words, assignment != identification. Identification predicates psychological value(s) rather than functional value(s).

In my experience, I have found that differentiating the sets in usage very useful when explaing to my child elementary politics, biology, and courtesy among people.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sat Jan 30th, 2010 at 12:59:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Cat:

M and F and I refer to sex traits, ergo reproductive capacities of a subject at maturity. I can think of few instances of political significance, in either private or public arena, that do not derive from factional determination and control of sexual reproductive capacity. In other words, these assignment AND identification is a functional value.

"Man" and "woman" are gender assignments of speech laden with meanings, apart from syntactical agreement. On this we agree, identification of a subject (or object) with either assignment "implies" a lot more about the subject articulated than its sex to speakers/hearers. In other words, assignment != identification. Identification predicates psychological value(s) rather than functional value(s).

why is semiotics so sexy?

bizarre meta-languages turn me on...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Feb 5th, 2010 at 05:52:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Now that is interesting.

I associate, as you say: viscerally, "men" and "women" with physical characteristics and "male" and "female" with behavior and cultural roles with personhood, adulthood, and etc. off on yet other axis.

Perhaps because "males" and "females" are species independent?  Or is it more that "men" and "women" are tagged with a higher emotive content in my association pathways?

Not going anywhere with this.  Just my reaction.


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sat Jan 30th, 2010 at 01:20:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"males" and "females" could just as easily be hamsters or lab rats as human beings.

That was not entirely accidental.

When analysing data, I normally fall into a slightly clinical style (which is not, despite the usual assumption, the same thing as "neutral"). I find that this helps me consider the data on its own merits, so to speak. Or perhaps that is simply a cultural illusion instilled in me during my training...

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Jan 30th, 2010 at 04:41:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's also a class element involved here. I remember an uncle of mine observing that in the 1950s the toilets in the West End were labeled "Ladies" and "Gentlemen". In the City they were "Women" and "Men", while in the East End, they were "Female" and "Male".
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Feb 2nd, 2010 at 03:57:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
someone rescue this! 'cause I don't have time for a diary and it must be time to get bias-banned again.

Recommend regular visits to

http://blog.iblamethepatriarchy.com/

Now, there's is joy ride!  

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Sun Feb 21st, 2010 at 04:12:36 PM EST


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