I have been blogging away over here at Advocate’s Studio on topics related to law, research, writing and technology for about six months now. I have done a lot of blog reading myself over that same period. Sometimes I note the blog author and sometimes I don’t. It never occurred to me that I am somewhat of a rarity, at least in the blog writing category.
According to C.C. Holland over at Law.com, readers are finding it difficult to find female legal bloggers. Now, perhaps they can’t readily count me because my description does not identify me by name or gender, but I do think my picture looks genuinely female.
But I digress. The article sets forth a variety of theories as to why there may be fewer law blogs authored by women than men. First point raised, by Caroline Elefant, an active blogger on MyShingle and Law.com, is well-taken – you won’t see them if you are not looking for them. The article also notes that the percentage of female law professor bloggers matches the population of female law professors in general. Lack of promotion of female law blogs may be one reason and the article ties this to the general reluctance of women to self-promote. Not sure I agree with that last one. In fact, the anonymity of the Internet provides ample protection for the shy flower female attorney less comfortable with traditional networking. Lack of familiarity with the process may be a better explanation.
Holland compares the 30.1 percent female lawyers reported by the ABA in 2007 with 23 percent of female bloggers listed with LexMonitor’s AmLaw 200 blogs. Holland also finds it compelling that only one of the blogs had a single female author. I am not sure these distinctions are particularly meaningful. I would be very interested to see a comparison of the percentage of female authors contributing to traditional law reviews, journals and periodicals with the percentage of female bloggers. In other words, I would like to know whether the percentage of female writers matches across the various writing fora. I would also like to see whether the percentage of female bloggers over the entire blogosphere matches the percentage of female law bloggers. Maybe women are less inclined to blog on any topic. This may be a generalization without support, but perhaps participation in blogging is more closely tied to a general interest in or experience with technology, which also may yield disparate figures between the genders.
Another cause cited is lack of time, primarily due to disproportionate family responsibilities shouldered by women. Women also may perceive that blogging lacks tangible value. Holland’s article does present the counter-argument that blogging is easier to accomplish and less time-consuming than traditional marketing methods. While I can relate personally to the pressure of time constraints, I agree with the counter-argument. My computer is available 24-7 and I need no one, other than myself, to produce my blog. LiveWriter is there waiting for me during my periodic bouts of insomnia at 3 a.m. For me, blogging provides a great creative outlet and serves to put my research and writing business in front of an audience I might not otherwise be able to reach. I can hone my skill and sell my skill in one pass of the keyboard. Blogging is efficient, for sure, and maybe even more effective.
The final reason posited is exposure to personal attack. These attacks can include gender-based backlash, mockery, even death threats. Some of those interviewed in the article cite personal experience that is more than a little hair-raising. However, no attempt is made in the article to compare the occurrence of such antagonistic behavior towards male and female bloggers.
Now, I readily admit that I haven’t been the subject of on-line harassment, undue criticism, personal attacks, malicious mis-use of my information or death threats. There is still time. Perhaps I might have a different opinion if I had received such treatment. However, I believe that the threat exists for both men and women and should not be touted casually as a gender-based reason for fewer female bloggers. Any blogger has to weigh the possibility of retaliation before embarking on this public display of thought process. If a potential blogger is concerned about this side-effect, they can take steps to protect themselves, male and female alike. In other words, the possibility of attack is a deterrent whether you are female or male and shouldn’t account for the comparatively small number of female legal bloggers.
We female legal bloggers are here making our thoughts known on the internet for all to see. I would suggest opening your eyes.