Monday, July 31, 2006

Gender Is Irrelevent

I'm a regular reader of Roger Kondrat's blog, Technological Winter. Today, he posted about a recent conference called BlogHer '06, organised by the BlogHer community - their website's byeline is apprently "Where the women bloggers are".

I was very interested in Roger's comment "Blogher was interesting for me.. ..I mean as someone that doesn’t think male or female, I just read what I read". And I think you've hit the nail on the head there, Roger. Why should the blogger's gender matter? I believe exactly the same. I read what I read and that's that. Sometimes you can't event tell the gender of the blogger, (it's one of the upsides of web anonymity, if you wish to be so). And I was wondering what makes a woman sign up for a blog precisely because it's hosted by/for women?

I've always worked in very male-dominated industries. My first job was a broadcast engineer for the BBC, where around 10% of the workforce was female. I never felt I was treated differently as a women, and certainly didn't find any prejudices in evidence. If you were good at your job, no one cared if you were a woman, you still got the respect you deserved. And I would never have wanted to be cut any breaks on the basis of my sex - don't get me started on "positive discrimination".

Now I'm still in a male-dominated profession - web design and development. At least, the design part is populated by quite a few more women, even if they aren't so much in evidence on the development side of things (at least, that's my experience). I reckon it's about 20% women where I currently work. But again, if you're any good, you could be a small, furry creature from Alpha Centauri and nobody would bat an eyelid.

Robert Scoble attended the conference, and his write-up suggests that perhaps women are using BlogHer because the tools are easier to pick up. But I have to ask, how hard is it to use Blogger, WordPress etc?

I have a very dear friend, who is a self-confessed technophobe. We've known each other since we were 11. At school, I was always the techie one, she the arty one. She majored in English & French Literature and went on to complete her PhD in that area, and now teaaches at one of the UK's top universities. She hates computers with a passion - only using them when she has to (for writing, that is probably rather more than she would like). Which is why, when I visited her a few months ago, I was absolutely astounded to learn she has a blog of her own, LitLove. And a very fine one it is too. In a few short weeks she has engaged in tremendous debates with other like-minded folk. And she has got to grips with the WordPress publishing system with great success. So obviously, it can't be that difficult to get a blog going, if you're passioiniate enough about your subject.

So what am I really trying to say here? Probably, that ultimately, it's all about the content of your blog that really matters. Not where it's hosted, or what gender you happen to be. Personally, I'd much rather infiltrate the "male domain" that is the mainstream blogsphere than find myself in what is little better than a female ghetto! I am glad I was educated in a co-ed environment, and never wanted to go to an all-girls school - they can get pretty catty at times ;-)

2 comments:

johnflood said...

To some extent the divide you are talking about is redolent of C.P. Snow's "Two Cultures" argument, which still rumbles on. I was struck by this when I saw Tom Stoppard's "Arcadia" where Thomasina pre-empts the discovery of chaos theory in 1809, but of course she's a girl and no one pays attention. The point is that one always notices when women cross this divide because some how it seems exceptional when it shouldn't be so. I see it in the work of Barbara Hepworth and Bridget Riley's op art paintings. Yet there was almost something accidental about these cross-fertilisations (maybe not: I'm only referring to perceptions). When I look at the work of my former colleague, Jane Prophet, we see an artist who incorporates both science and scientists into her artistic endeavours. I wonder when both the interaction of art and science/technology and the lack of note of gender will become normal?

Frances Berriman said...

"they can get pretty catty at times"

That does sum up one of the reasons I have very few female friends (but that's beside the point)

It's good to read that you're on the same wavelength. As a rule, I find a lot of the lady-bloggers out there are too - I suppose I mostly just can't get into the mindset of those women who do seem to encourage a male/female split. I don't really see how it benefits anyone.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my rant on the same topic. :)