Men and Women of the Blogosphere

March 31, 2011
Posted by Jay Livingston

Talk is cheap. So is blogging, which is pretty much the same thing economically – no fixed costs (unless you have to pay for your own computer and Internet), no variable costs. There are many economist bloggers (some with huge followings), including quite a few heavy hitters – Presidential advisors (like Greg Mankiw), Nobel Prize winners (like Paul Krugman). But they are mostly men.

There are 52 women on the list of the top 1,000 economists. None of them blog.
That was the subhead in a recent Christian Science Monitor article (“Where Are the Female Economist Bloggers?”) by Matthew Kahn.

Economist Diane Lim Rogers responded:
I think we female economists have our own empirical (not just theoretical) reasons why those of us who blog aren’t the same people as those of us who are at the top of the REPEC* list. . . . It’s called we have and care about other things and people in our lives, not just our own individual, introspective views about how the supposed world around us supposedly works (in our own opinion)! And that’s even things and people other than what Matthew counts so endearingly as the “home production” sort of things–you know, “cooking and rearing children.”
Kahn, besides speculating on why female economists don’t blog, also says why they should blog:
The shrewd academic uses his blog to market his ideas and to “amplif” his new academic results. This is a type of branding.
But I think that when it comes to the reasons men blog – the things they care about – Lim Rogers and XKCD are closer to the mark.** It’s about Ego, though it usually marches under the banner of Principle.

Is it gender stereotyping to assume that the figure at the computer is a male and that the out-of-panel voice is a female? Stereotype or not, it is apparently accurate – and not just for economists.

The female sociologist bloggers I know of who have children at home have either joined blogging co-ops or reduced their output to a very occasional post. “Home production” and time-opportunity costs may play a part. But if the rewards of blogging are, as Lim Rogers says, narcissistic (telling everyone how the world works, not to mention the pissing contests that go on between blogs or in the comments sections), fewer women may be interested in these gratifications. I suspect that the region of the blogosphere where the interaction is supportive rather than combative, that’s where you’ll find more women

*RePEc (Research Papers in Economics)) ranks economists by publications, citations, and other criteria. As Kahn says, it “provides an objective measure of who is ‘Royalty’ in the economics profession.”

**Matt Yglesias also included this when he reprinted Lim Rogers’s remarks.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

why can't both figures in the XKCD comic be male? you are just furthering the stereotype that homosexuals can't be good at economics!