Strange Bias

      10 Comments on Strange Bias

Pulling together my monthly column for the ISTC (I write about blogs, unsurprisingly), I noticed something rather odd. I really, sincerely, hope this isn’t something I’ve been unconsciously doing but it does seem that many of the technical communications blogs I follow, and which I feature in my monthly column, are written by men.

Given that, for the bulk of my career, I was usually outnumbered in many a Documentation department, with on one occasion when I was one guy in a team of six, I find this gender balance quite odd.

Thinking back to the Technical Communications conference I’d say there is a fairly even split of gender in our profession, but I can’t say I was paying that much attention.

Is it just me? Am I being over-sensitive about this?

Of all the blogs I monitor, the split is pretty even (a rough count suggests about 55% are written by men) but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Some of those blogs are very topic specific and I tend to look for things which will have the widest appeal, so perhaps the topic specific blogs are more likely to be written by a woman than a man.

Or not.

It’s a minefield!

10 thoughts on “Strange Bias

  1. Ivan Walsh

    Gordon,

    Emarketer had an article this week about Social Media in the UK.

    One of the finding was that women prefer to use Social Media et al to connect with friends, whereas men (it seems…)
    prefer to use the web to make new friends.

    If this is true, then maybe men prefer to blog as it’s a way to connect with an unseen readership…

    My take is that women are more intentional on how/where they direct their energy.

    ie blogging may not justify the investment.

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  3. Margaret

    I’m aware of a couple woman-written tech comm blogs that I used to follow that sort of faded away. I’ve also thought about starting one, but I have so many other things competing for my attention that my writing one would probably be spotty, at best. I think it is easier for men to stay committed to regular postings. Most bloggers cannot do their writing and posting at work. If a woman is fitting a blog into her outside-of-work schedule, her commitments to her spouse, children, grandchildren, or elderly parents may get a higher priority than starting or keeping up a blog.

  4. Janet Swisher

    I just checked my “Tech Writing” category in Google Reader, and found 28 blogs by men, 17 by women, and 11 that are group/corporate/can’t-tell. So, it doesn’t sound like you’re biased in who you follow, but it’s possible you have some bias in what you find to have “widest appeal”. Since I don’t read your ISTC column, I can’t say. I appreciate you being willing to consider that it might be so.

  5. Catherine Hibbard

    I actually never thought about this issue before, but now that you raise it, it’s worth discussing. I will tweet about it to other technical communicators and see if we can get more people to express an opinion.

  6. Cecily

    I am a female software technical author and for all my career I have worked in places where most of the developers are men and most of the authors are women.

    However, the gender split in the blogs I follow is even stronger than Gordon’s. Of the seven or eight I read regularly, only one is by a woman, and of the ones I check more occasionally, the ratio is similar.

    I suppose one obvious answer is to try to rectify the balance by taking up blogging!

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  8. Karla

    As a technical writer and previously as an electronic technician, 99.9% of my coworkers have been men. So it stands to reason that the technical bloggers would be men, too. This is not to say that women don’t blog. One of the technical blogs I read is Shang-hai Techwriter, by a woman in China. Almost all of the non-technical blogs I read (Formerly Hot, At Home with the Farmer’s Wife, How Not to Act old, et al) are written by women. Because math and science programs are designed and taught predominantly by and for men, I don’t expect we’ll see that change any time soon.

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