Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Adam vs. Eve: Does The Blogosphere Have A Gender?

Sharon Brogan has been publishing the Watermark blog for the past four years. She keeps a page, aptly titled "Here Are the Women Bloggers," which features other blogs written by women. In an email exchange with Sharon, she told me that she feels that the blogosphere is often unfair. Sharon thinks that male bloggers are more likely to link to other male bloggers rather than to blogs written by women.

Could this be true? My gut feeling was no, but I was not sure. Perhaps that was the case with tech blogs simply because there are more men writing about technology? Intrigued by this question, I also wondered who blogs more: men or women? If tech is dominated by men, perhaps other types of blogs are written predominantly by women. Politics, food, entertainment -- the blogosphere covers more than just technology, does it have a gender?

Female Factor in Technorati Top 20 Blogs

First, let's take a look at the gender breakdown among the top 20 blogs on Technorati. In the chart below, we considered the gender of each blog's founder, as well as the split between the male and female contributors.

It appears that the top Technorati blogs are dominated by men. The explanation is likely to be a combination of two factors: time and focus. The mega popular blogs are mostly the ones that have been around since the early days, and the early-day focus of blogosphere was technology, which is a field that seems to have traditionally attracted men more than women.

Female Factor in Recent Wordpress Blogs by Tag

Next we headed over to Wordpress.com and looked at recent blogs by tag and checked the gender of the blogger who made the tagged post. Note that this does not mean that the blog is focused on a particular topic, it simply means that an entry was tagged that way. For the chart below we sampled a few popular tags.

This sample tells a different story. The chart suggests that non-tech topics, such as books, arts, and travel, have a much more even split between male and female bloggers.

Female Factor in Blogger, Typepad and Vox Blogs

Blogger has a cool feature that allows you to sample through blogs at random, which was very handy for our investigation. The ratio of male to female blogs that we saw during our random sample was 11:7. Note that with some blogs we could not determine what gender the author was, and some had multiple authors which made it hard to quantify.

Next we looked at Typepad's Featured blogs. The split between the 10 recently featured blogs was exactly 5 to 5.

The front page of Vox, however, was a completely different scene, confirming that not all platforms are equally attractive to everyone:

So What Do We Make Of All This?

We can draw a few conclusions from the data we gathered above. First, the blogosphere does not have a gender. Males and females are both writing passionately about topics that matter to them. There are however trends that we see:

  • The Top Technorati blogs are dominated by men. The likely explanation is that they are generally focused on technology.
  • Since people blog about what matters to them, gender breakdown will be more sharp around topics (i.e. men appear to write more about gadgets, women seem to write more about family).
  • Different platforms may attract one gender over another depending on aesthetics and ease-of-use.

Returning to Sharon's concern that men link mostly to other men, I would guess that it probably isn't true. More likely, it just appears that way because of gender splits by topic. If less women are blogging about gadgets or technology, there are simply fewer opportunities to link to them on these topics. The reverse is likely true as well -- if more women have blogs about literature, then one might expect to see more links between female lit blogs than male blogs in that topic area.


The blogosphere is a wonderful jungle. Flipping through it gives you a sense of wonder, marvel and humbleness. So many people are out there blogging, writing, discovering truths and sharing their lives - it's just amazing. The blogosphere is inhabited by both men and women, young and elderly, of all nationalities, religions, and professions. It is a creative common that does not belong to anyone. It offers a truly global and genderless voice that forms the beat of our human experience.

Help us celebrate the blogosphere by adding a link to your favorite blog in the comment section of this post.

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