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Where are the Female Blawgers?

In "Where Are All the Female Law Bloggers?", writer C.C. Holland wonders why there are so few women among the ranks of high-profile legal bloggers. "It seems to be true that the majority of high-profile legal blogs, whether in academia or the practice of law, are helmed by men," she writes, asking, "So what's behind this seeming disparity?" She poses three theories as possible answers. But before she gets to the theories, she provides this list of strong female voices in the legal blogging area.

Just looking over this list is enough to call Holland's thesis into question. It includes my co-blogger here at Legal Blog Watch, Carolyn Elefant, whose primary blog, My Shingle, has clearly established her as a leading female blogger. Two other women on the list, Denise Howell and Sabrina Pacifici, were among the first legal professionals to blog and remain dominant voices within the blogosphere. (Holland's list omits Howell's primary blog, instead pointing to an inactive group blog to which she contributed.) Let's not forget that it was Howell who coined the word "blawg" in the first place and whose prominence allowed the word to quickly take root.

And then there are the number of prominent female blawgers missing from this list. At the risk of offending those I do not mention, others who come quickly to mind include Wendy Seltzer, Jeralyn Merritt, Anne Reed, Diane Levin, Tammy Lenski, Colette Vogele, Rebecca Tushnet, the several women among the regular contributors to SCOTUSblog, Wendy Kaminer, Bonnie Shucha, Chere Estrin, Christine Corcos and Mary Flood.

Does the naming of these names somehow support Holland's first theory? Women law bloggers are out there, but others just don't see them, she suggests. But Elefant tells Holland it is a "myth" that there are fewer women blawgers, one fed by the focus on a handful of big-name sites, which tend to be run by men. Holland answers this with the assertion that "even outlets that purport to be comprehensive don't feature many women." As evidence, she points to LexMonitor's directory of Am Law 200 blogs -- a befuddling choice of proof given that the Am Law 200 is about as far away from a comprehensive representation of the legal blogosphere as one can get.

Holland's two other theories are that women lack as much time as men to blog and that women are more likely to fear the personal attacks that can come with the territory. As to the latter, I doubt that is much of an explanation. Frankly, blogging about legal topics does not engender much vitriol. Her evidence here is the unique case of a non-lawyer who was blogging about non-legal topics when she came under personal attack. But how likely is it that a lawyer blogging about real estate law, for example, would come under vicious personal attack? The time theory may be the most plausible, but I like the comment of Karen Carey, a contributor to the Womble Carlyle Construction Industry Blog, "I see blogging as an investment of time, not a waste of time."

As a matter of sheer numbers, Holland is no doubt correct that men outnumber women among legal bloggers. But I am not convinced that men's voices are more prominent. In the end, the real issue is most likely one of perception, and of the perspectives of those whose perception is skewed one way or the other.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on October 6, 2008 at 01:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

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