I have to admit that this particular post was inspired by a class we had in our Digital Humanities this semester entitled Gender and Coding. When I realized that there were marked discrepancies between how male and female interacted in something as (surprisingly obvious as) coding, I realized that there had to be differences inherent in some of the more visible levels – blogging. Previously, I have written about Academic blogging in terms of why it is important, its benefits and some challenges to credibility. Though now I would like to consider a new aspect of academic blogging: Gender, Race, and Sexism. To be candid this blog is not in its strictest sense one that deals purely with academic blogging, though I think it is easy to correlate how an issue such as blogging could seep into the fields of academia. I have yet to find any specific studies that deal exclusively with gender and academic blogging though if somebody has found something pass it my way. This post will introduce a few of the themes that deal with this topic. If you are interested in further studies, follow any of the links, and they will give you a wider selection of more comprehensive reading.
My second confession of the night is this. I had absolutely no clue as to where or when or how to start a blog post like this. Though thankfully after a few hours of quick research ( Digital Literacy for the win) I managed to dig up a few articles that I actually found more surprising than I care to admit. I had always envisioned gender issues on a broader socio-economic scale, which is to say that I had not considered the implications of gender discrepancies in things like academic discourse. What is nice about studying these things through digital mediums such as blogging is that it is a relatively (sic) easy thing to track the metrics on this sort of data. Low and behold I found this.
“Blogging is not the first form of computer-mediated communication (CMC) to be accused of sexism. While research into CMC dates back to the 1970s, it was not until the 1990s that researchers turned their attention to the issue of gender. Despite earlier suggestions that online communities were gender-blind, democratic places where all were offered an equal opportunity to participate anonymously, researchers such asHerring (1993, 1996), Kramarae and Taylor (1993), Hall (1996), and Gurak (1999) claimed that rather than neutralizing gender, the electronic medium in fact encouraged its intensification, and that participants in online communities were likely to bring with them pre-existing patterns of hierarchy and male domination conditioned into them early in life. In this, gender and CMC scholars built on the work of researchers in the field of face-to-face communication, such as Lakoff (1975), Tannen (1991), and Coates (1993).”
– Found in – Gender Differences in British Blogging. If you want to read the full article look here.
One of the things found in this article is that while men have traditionally made up the majority of bloggers ( circa 2007) women frequently blogged more. Though It is also important to note that since this was first written nearly seven years ago, the landscape has slid dramatically with the inclusion of a whole host of female bloggers. However, even in blogging some of the same issues persist:
“Since it is now possible to make money from blogging by selling advertising space on one’s blog, the perception that women’s blogs are less popular than men’s puts women bloggers at an economic, as well as a social, disadvantage. Considerations such as these have led to the establishment of the BlogHer movement in the U.S. (http://blogher.org/), with the mission to create opportunities for women bloggers to gain exposure, pursue education, and create community.”
– and here again.
– As I began to realize that this was very much so a relevant issue, I started to canvass for more articles related to some of these issues and started turning up further horror stories. For instance, take the case of doctoral candidate Lucy Williams. During the course of her studies, she had kept and maintained a blog. After several months of keeping meticulous notes on her site, she was shocked to find that her work was being copied and shared across various media platforms while being attributed to a host of other authors. While gender may not have been the only factor as to why her work was plagiarized, it is not purely an isolated incident. There are other incidents that point to the idea that work is appropriated more frequently from female bloggers.
Take as a second example, this – Out of respect for the author and her content, and a desire to honour the authors wishes on the use policies listed on this next site, I will refrain from posting anything overly specific. Though if you want an excellent read of the problematic relationship concerning race, academics and plagiarism I would suggest that you check out this blog series. She has her Ma. in Criminal Justice.
1.- The Academics, Content Trollers and Plagiarizers Have Made Me Tired….
2.- I Could Not Be Any More Tired of Academia and I Am Not Even a Part of It
3.- Exploitation of Black Women’s Labor… In The Name of feminism or Justice? Please.
My point being in all of this is that serious note should be taken in realizing that in all aspects of academic study there are still levels of variation concerning race and gender inequality. There is no exception concerning academic blogging either. I would contend that part of the evolution of digital media has to account for these discrepancies as it becomes a more and more established means of communication. Since blogging is a more visible means of media, it offers a greater opportunity to fix some of the problems that have existed under the surface for years. Whether we see it or not remains our choice.