I Am Who I Am

I’m late to write up my thoughts on Gordon Mclean’s post, Strange Bias, but I give him a belated thumbs up for great self-inspection and data query in the post.

My take? I read ““Why James Chartrand Wears Women’s Underpants” on Copyblogger in December. It’s a great survivor story that you should read in its entirety, but the gist of it is that James is a pen name for a woman freelance writer, who writes the popular blog Men with Pens. Merely representing herself as a man made a real difference in her career trajectory. I was shocked, though, that she never had to talk to clients on the phone and that she never went to conferences or spoke at conferences.

It made me wonder if I’d have 10 times the subscribers to my blog if I had started in 2005 as Tom Gentle. It really did. But we are who we are, and being genuine and transparent is all part of my blogging experience. Many of the opportunities I’ve had in the past 4-5 years are somehow related to my blog and the work ethic it requires to maintain.

And to answer Gordon’s question, “is it just me?” I’d say, my experience with tech pub teams I’ve been on are that men are the slightly minority gender. If you believe Quantcast web stats about the STC website, you see that 61% of site visitors are female. I’ve also observed more women at tech comm conferences than men.

But, socializing being, well, social, means you tend to relate to people like yourself, right? So followers, friends, and fans, being self-selecting as they are, may prove that men follow men and women follow women. I think Twitter certainly reflects this tendency, since research shows men follow men on Twitter. And bloggers use Twitter far more than the general population (See the pie chart on the Day 5 report).

If you read Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere you see that 2/3 rds of all bloggers are men. So the 55% blogs written by men that Gordon reads actually differs from the predictive 66% overall population. A great observation, Gordon, well done.


  • February 20, 2010 - 4:37 am | Permalink

    I wonder if there is an element of the type of person that technical writing ‘attracts’ coming into play as well?

    For the most part (I’m generalising hugely) technical writers are usually on the introvert side of the scale, with the ones who aren’t tending to be the ones who are happy to write blogs, speak at conferences and put themselves out there.

    Without checking I’d say that (for both personal and professional) the number of women I follow on Twitter is the majority.

  • February 20, 2010 - 8:12 am | Permalink

    Hi Anne,

    Men are also more aggressive when writing their blogs, which creates conflict and arguments. This makes their blogs in some ways more interesting as it stimulates debate.

    Girl bloggers tend to be a bit too polite and PC; not sure why are they’re not like that offline.

    If they shot from the hip a bit more, the traffic would go up.

    Oh, yes it would!

  • February 20, 2010 - 3:25 pm | Permalink

    I don’t mind someone hiding gender behind a pen name, but a woman blogging as “Men with Pens” just doesn’t sit right with me. But it wouldn’t be the first time. After all on the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog. I remember in the late ’80s, on the Compuserve chat forums, someone went under the handle “Talking Lady” and claimed to be a medical professor who had been significantly injured in an accident…. years later, I found out that person was a male sociologist.

  • February 24, 2010 - 11:50 pm | Permalink

    @Gordon Now i want to figure out whether I follow more men or women on Twitter – there’s gotta be a Twitter tool that can analyze who I follow. 🙂

    @Ivan As a blogger I tend to avoid debate-style or conflict journalism in my blog, which may or may not be because I’m not a man. Not sure. 🙂 I have different goals than sheer traffic numbers with my blog, though. I am a competitive spirit but more subscribers just doesn’t feel like a “win” to me. Interesting points!

    @Michele I noticed the gender opposition right away! Not sure if I felt “hm, that’s uncomfortable” or “wow, the audacity!” with a hint of admiration for her guts. Dang.

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