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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Do Women Blog?

Do female law professors blog? I mean, I know a few of them do. Orly Lobel is one of the regular PrawfsBlawg bloggers, and several other women, including Katy Kuh, Liz Glazer, Miriam Cherry, Laura Appleman, and Elaine Chiu, have guest blogged here. But do women really blog anywhere close to their numbers in the academy? Skimming the list here, women are decidedly in the minority. (By my count, Orly is one of nine regular bloggers, and of the ten guest bloggers, only one is female.) And yet looking at the AALS faculty composition data, faculty under 50 (most bloggers are under 50, right?) are roughly equally split in terms of male female. So I'm curious. Do female law professors blog? If so, where? I know about the Feminist Law Professors blog , but where else? And if female law professors really are underrepresented in the blogosphere, why? Enquiring minds want to know.

Posted by Bennett Capers on July 16, 2008 at 08:43 AM in Blogging | Permalink

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My impression is that this is evidence of the inertia of gender roles. Professional women still have far more responsibility in the domestic arena. So a number of female law professors have told me they would like to blog, but they don't have time. And blogging is one of the first things that falls off the to-do list.

I much prefer this explanation to others based on analogies to the male interaction with TV remote controls, toilet seats, and the inability to see the mayonnaise jar on the shelf of the refrigerator.

Posted by: Jeff Lipshaw | Jul 16, 2008 9:10:59 AM

Well, it's a tricky issue; it's also been difficult to get voices from people of color to blog.

For what it's worth, we've actually had over 30 women law professors blog here on Prawfs in the past, and I've issued well more than 100 invitations to female prawfs--I'd guess at least 200--with an invitation to come blog at a month of their convenience. The commitment we ask is that guests post 2-4 times a week for 3-4 weeks. That's a minimum of 6 posts, which could be written once every two months and stored up over the course of the year! I've also in the past encouraged readers and past bloggers to bring to my attention the names of prawfs who might want to try their hand at it, and I renew my invitation to do so now, especially to prawfs joining the academy or who have done so in the last five years.

I won't speculate too much about causes, but blogging can be scary -- there are readers just waiting to pounce on what you correctly thought was a harmless aside and I can't tell you how many days I've been upset by something someone wrote -- and it requires time away from more rational pursuits like scholarship and family obligations or the Daily Show--not in any particular order. Because of past and current discrimination, women and minorities might already feel, in many cases, like they are under additional scrutiny and subject to additional demands made by their institutions. To some, blogging only amplifies that sense of being a prisoner in a Panopticon. The day is long, and the work is plentiful. But I welcome a helpful and constructive conversation about what more can be done.


Posted by: Dan Markel | Jul 16, 2008 9:21:23 AM

Mary L. Dudziak is a regular (and very interesting) contributor at Balkinization. Raquel Aldana is a fairly regular contributor at Immigration Prof blog and Leticia Saucedo is a somewhat less regular contributor there. If you scan down the list of the blogs making up the Law Prof blog empire you'll see lots of women listed though I don't read the vast majority of those blogs so don't know how active they are. Christine Hurt is also a regular contributor at The Conglomerate. I'm sure there are others but the list of blogs I read very regularly is not extremely long.

Posted by: matt | Jul 16, 2008 9:23:21 AM

Peggy McGuinness was one of our founders at Opinio Juris, and more than 20 women blog (though many infrequently) at IntLawGrrls. Interesting that international law has such a significant number of women bloggers!

Posted by: Kevin Heller | Jul 16, 2008 10:06:21 AM

Althouse has quite a regular following, if I'm not mistaken.

Posted by: MSD | Jul 16, 2008 10:15:56 AM

The pseudonymous hilzoy at Obsidian Wings. Kathleen Bergin and Josie Brown at First Amendment Law Prof. Laura Appleman at Faculty Lounge and several other places.

Posted by: Howard Wasserman | Jul 16, 2008 10:34:00 AM

International law experts who blog on the IntLawGrrls site --http://intlawgrrls.blogspot.com -- are all women. In the past two weeks, bloggers there include:

Diane Amman (of UC Davis and Boalt, who founded the site),
Marjorie Florestal (McGeorge),
Beth Hillman (Hastings),
Hope Lewis (Northeastern),
Naomi Norberg (Université Paris I / Panthéon-Sorbonne),
Hari Osofsky (Washington & Lee),
Jaya Ramji-Nogales (Temple),
Sarah Thomas (Documentation Center, Victim Participation Project, Cambodia), and
Beth Van Schaak (Santa Clara).

Posted by: Stephanie Farrior | Jul 16, 2008 10:42:46 AM

Tracy McGaugh blogs at Millennial Law Prof - http://www.themillennials.org/

Posted by: David S. Cohen | Jul 16, 2008 10:46:18 AM

Blenderlaw (Caroline Bradley) is one.

Posted by: Michael Froomkin | Jul 16, 2008 11:00:04 AM

Not that it matters much (certainly not to the quality) but Hilzoy isn't a law professor or even a lawyer- she's a philosophy professor. So, if the question is about female law professor bloggers she's not in.

Posted by: matt | Jul 16, 2008 11:22:12 AM

Here's one. http://althouse.blogspot.com/

Posted by: Eric | Jul 16, 2008 11:59:07 AM

A few more thoughts on this available here.

Posted by: MSD | Jul 16, 2008 12:13:17 PM

This is obviously an empirical question. The easiest way would be to use Dan Solove's latest Blogger Census to determine the percentage of women law professors who blog compared to male law professors: http://www.concurringopinions.com/archives/2007/08/law_professor_b_9.html. Dan's census is one year old now, but perhaps he is working on the next version. Because nothing is new under the sun, I'm sure you can find various blog posts over the past four years on the question of why women do or do not blog.

Posted by: Christine Hurt | Jul 16, 2008 12:27:24 PM

Sheila Scheuerman blogs with us at TortsProf Blog.

Posted by: Chris Robinett | Jul 16, 2008 1:09:30 PM

Sad that I can't spell my own name in the last post!

Posted by: Chris Robinette | Jul 16, 2008 1:11:12 PM

Christine is quite right. Offering up names of female law professors who blog -- and there still a lot of names missing -- doesn't tell us whether women blog, because it doesn't tell us how many women blog, whether they are underrepresented, and why.

Posted by: Paul Horwitz | Jul 16, 2008 7:43:07 PM

I agree with Christine that starting with Dan Solove's census would be a way to look at the data. And of course I also wanted to plug the Legal History Blog, which I created in Nov. 06. My current guest blogger is Elizabeth Hillman. http://legalhistoryblog.blogspot.com/

I don't know about other fields, but there are many wonderful female history bloggers. Over 1000 history blogs are cataloged here: http://hnn.us/blogs/entries/9665.html

Posted by: Mary Dudziak | Jul 16, 2008 8:31:42 PM

I would flip the question and ask, what is it about men that attracts them to blogging? I would think the reason is that men love to hear themselves talk. They think they have something important to say; writing a lot becomes a way of showing off one's importance. Women usually have this baggage less often, so they're less likely to waste their precious few hours of free time in front of a computer blogging.

Posted by: Orin Kerr | Jul 16, 2008 9:10:13 PM

Orin, it's a fun theory, but whether I'm asking the question of men or women, I guess I'm still inclined to think that material questions -- questions of how much time one has, the extent of one's childcare responsibilities, etc. -- are still more important factors here. After all, we're dealing in this case with a comparative pool of male and female professors, so I think everyone in the pool has already passed some kind of blowhard threshold. In any event, I must add that I don't write to show off my importance; I write, at best, to fight against a sense of my own insignificance. Which, to be sure, is also a form of self-indulgence, but of a somewhat different kind, right? Right?

Posted by: Paul Horwitz | Jul 16, 2008 11:13:01 PM

Paul, but you ARE important, so it's okay! Seriously, I agree that childcare issues are very likely a part of it. But my sense is that the same(or at least a similar) trend exists among profs who are single or who have grown children. Blogging is a time sink, and the people who do it are the odd ducks that don't mind pretty much eliminating any free time they have to spend hours in front of a computer. One interesting way to test this would be to take the list some have been mentioning it and to try (without violating anyone's privacy) to figure out what percentage of bloggers have kids relative to the whole.

Posted by: Orin Kerr | Jul 17, 2008 12:54:24 AM

Just some stats: For the 53 blogs published by the Law Professor Blogs Network, 30% (30 of 100 bloggers) of the editors are female law professors. See
http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/law_librarian_blog/2008/07/do-female-law-p.html

Posted by: Joe Hodnicki | Jul 18, 2008 11:09:55 AM

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