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Blog Gender Theories

Posted By Darren Rowse 7th of June 2006 ProBlogger Site News 0 Comments

Gender-PollLast week’s blog poll asked ProBlogger readers to let us know whether they were male or female.

I said at the time that I was testing a theory that I had and that I’d share that theory after the poll ended. Here’s what I was testing…

The Theory

During my first group writing project I noticed that I had a lot of submissions from bloggers that I was not familiar with. I also had the realization as i saw the submission come in that quite a few of them were from females. The reason that this stood out to me a little was that as I thought about the split of males and females who comment on ProBlogger I realized that it was largely guys who seemed to leave comments.

I began to wonder whether guys males felt more comfortable with the whole commenting thing and/or whether females tended to respond better to other forms of blogging activities and invitations (like the group writing project which is a different form of reader interaction). I decided that while the anecdotal evidence seemed to point to this that maybe I should test it.

The Results

So I started by trying to ascertain what the split between mail and females readers were here at ProBlogger. The split of those who responded to the poll were 28% Female and 72% Male.

Then I looked at the percentage split between the genders in the group writing project. This was a little more difficult as it’s not completely obvious what gender all bloggers are. My guesstimation is that 35% of those participating in group writing project were female and 65% were Male (not too dissimilar to reader split).

Lastly I took a random sample of 300 ProBlogger comments from the last month (it took a little longer than I was expecting) to look again at the gender split there. The results of that were that in that 300 comments 10% of comments were left by Females and 90% by Males.

A Conclusion

I won’t make a sweeping statement about all blogs because my ‘research’ was based solely upon ProBlogger readers and I also won’t claim that my ‘study’ is conclusive as there is plenty of room for error – but it does seem that here at ProBlogger that females are under represented in comments and/or males are over represented.

In contrast to this females participated in the first group writing project at a higher level than males did.

Why this is the case I’m not completely sure as I don’t have expertise in gender studies but I do find it very interesting. Perhaps this is isolated to ProBlogger but I’d be interested to hear what others think about it from their own experiences. Perhaps, considering the above ‘findings’ the comment section below is not the best place for such a discussion – but feel free to respond as you feel comfortable with your theories and ideas.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Speaking from my own experience, I’m a female who comments but hasn’t participated in a group writing project. Mainly because the scope of the writing projects wouldn’t fit into my blog’s focus. But, I like thinking about ways to bring traffic to my site and you say things that interest me. So I comment. I’m not sure my female-ness influences those decisions at all.

    I should probably say that I met one of my good blog-friends through her contribution to your blog while you were on vacation. Or maybe I shouldn’t say it.

  2. One example that I can think of …

    In a party (especially so in corporate functions) or social gathering, you rarely see a woman walk up to a group of “strangers” to initiate the talk. However, if that group happens to dominate by people that she knows she’ll have no problem doing so. Women by nature bond well in this kind of environment. Or maybe women feel much at ease if a bond has established. Whereas for men, they don’t need any special bonding to initiate a talk. He talks if the topic fits his interest.

    Just like this coming football (FIFA) season, you’ll see a bunch of men, that are totally strangers to one another, can gather to watch the match so happily even it consists of two different groups of fans. I rarely see this scenario in a women hockey match.

    This is what I observed and in no means is my definition. BTW, I’m a female. ;)

  3. I haven’t commented at this blog before because I only started reading it recently. Until recently though I didn’t comment at any blogs very much. I didn’t feel like I had that much to add to the conversation most of the time. But since participating at other blogs by commenting can be a good way to get the word out about your own blog I knew it was something I needed to start doing. I’m not very comfortable with self-promotion though – I think guys may feel more comfortable with it than many women are. Maybe it explains in part why more of the top blogs are written by men rather than by women?

  4. I would suspect that the way women are treated online might have something to do with it. A woman only has to start a blog, go onto a chat room, or use her name in a forum, and bam.. she has attention from men (good and/or bad). It’s like a honeypot. If I were a woman, I think I’d tire of this pretty quickly and be wary about what I posted or how much I got involved with certain types of activity online.

  5. I would agree with Renee statement on “you rarely see a woman walk up to a group of “strangers” to initiate the talk”. That’s quite true, males are open to any kind of initiative talk and females tend to reciprocate on others initiative. Personally I don’t comment much one reason cos’ I feel I’m talking to people I have no idea about and another reason is abit reluctant to voice my opinion on public.
    Your study must be pretty much accurate as I observe a great number of bloggers are males, ofcos there are lots of female bloggers too…as for the commenting, well may be ladies are just too shy to voice up. haha.

  6. I think it reflects the split between male and female bloggers in general, not just Problogger readers. I remember a couple of articles a while back (sorry, forgot the sources) asking where are the female bloggers. Well, we’re here and growing in number!

  7. It might just have to do with the fact that the IT industry in general is dominated by males. And sitting at an electronic gadget having fun is more of a male activity than a female one whether it’s a computer, PlayStation or blogging.

    However, I’m in the process of redesigning my website which will include several blogs so when I relaunch later this year I will join the apparently small female blogger club!

  8. I completely agree with Renee, but as I was reading this post, I was thinking of my own theory as well.

    I’m a busy mom who needs to take care of two kids, clean house, do laundry and plenty of other ‘motherly’ stuff as well as working online. I have very limited time when I’m working and it’s sporadic to say the least. So the time I do have is mainly spent focusing on my content and keeping my blogs fresh as best to my ability.

    I would comment more if I had more time, but I feel that writing posts on my own blog is more important than networking through comments.

    I may be completely out of the ball park on this one, but it’s the first thing that came to my mind when seeing the poll results.

  9. As a female myself I have to agree with Renee’s theory. I always feel a little shy of joining into a discussion when I’m not familiar with the others.

    And I did participate in the last group writing project. Usually I would have thought twice about that as well but since I already had a draft that happened to be about my blog goals, I thought why not.

    From my personal perspective, your conclusion seems pretty accurate.

  10. I personally read this blog almost every weekday. But I rarely would comment, unless I feel like to :)
    So, I think it’s a bit biased :)

  11. I’m actually with Cassie on this one, my child keeps me pretty busy, and while I read every day, actually commenting can be hard, especially when he’s fighting me for the keyboard ;). I’m not saying that men aren’t busy as well, but they may have more undivided time at the computer where they aren’t also doing ten other things and running back and forth.

  12. I did a simple query at MSN’s adcenter with the Demographics Prediction tool (http://adlab.msn.com/DPUI/DPUI.aspx) for the term “problogger” and found these numbers:

    Male: 61%
    Female: 39%

    Then I did it for the URL https://problogger.com and found these numbers:

    Male: 60%
    Female: 40%

    I have no idea how accurate these numbers are but I thought it was interesting that it somewhat corroborates your numbers.

  13. Just did a count of the comments to the last 10 posts on my blog. 18 out of 51 comments were from females – or about 35%. The blog is about sailing so perhaps of more interest to both sexes than a techie blog. And of the recent posts quite a few have been about various relationship and parenting issues affecting the sport so perhaps that skewed it a bit also.

  14. Yo! Ten percent, represent!

    Performancing.com asked the same question a while back, and got pretty much the same answers– it would seem you have to call the women out for them to answer– either specifically, as this post does, or with some other form of irrisistible comment fodder.

    Looks like that backs up the busy, less-likely-to-talk-to-strangers, and the hey-we’re-out-here comments.

  15. I know that the main reason I rarely comment on other blogs is because I’m pretty new to blogging in general. I’ve been lurking around the edges and only in the past couple of months decided to take the plunge. At this point, I’m more concerned with getting posts up and creating a stockpile of posts for those times when my inspiration is lagging or I find myself running out of time.

    The latest Group Writing project is the first one I’ve participated in and finally prodded me to make a couple of comments here and there on the blogs I’ve been lurking around.

  16. on one of my blogs(http://30dayartist.com), tho i haven’t done the math, most of the comments are left by females, and the forms and e-mails i get are also largely female biased.

    Perhaps its a social thing, word of mouth might spread faster in one gender, and take longer to get across to the other sex.

  17. Naomi says: 06/08/2006 at 2:11 am

    I’m with thereisnosquare. I want to comment, but I don’t have my real blog up and running yet. In my type-A, you-never-get-a-second-chance-to-make-a-first-impression way, I don’t want to start commenting until I have a decent URL to link to. And I don’t have a decent URL to link to because the technical aspect of creating a decent looking blog scares the daylights out of me. And so I do nothing but read.

    I know it’s completely self-sabotaging, but I read all the advice about making sure you have your own domain name, making sure your blog doesn’t look too bloggery, making sure your ads are in the right place and I become terrified of making mistakes. And since I respect the readers of this blog especially, I don’t want to ruin any future reputation by linking to a crappy blog.

    I did, however, answer your poll. Perhaps I prefer the anonymous contribution option. :)

  18. Darren, I very much like your interest in getting to know more, experimenting in your blogs to find out better ways, doing surveys, inviting feedback etc.

    This little study of gender differences is beautiful and it seems to me that you have received some very important answers already in the comments.

    Of course there are complex reasons for the sex differences you find. I was not surprised, though. But I think that some of the very important answers are here already in all of the interesting comments given.

    1) Very many more males than females use their time for blogging – this is so all over the world. And I think statistics say that females prefer communites to blogs. Consequently, more males are likely to read blogs and maybe also more likely to be prompted to comment in blogs

    2) For women, family, children and paid work in combination are time-consuming – there is not much time left for leisure surfing and active comment writing – even if we would wish so

    3) There are sex differences how we communicate, take initiative in conversations and take turns in real life discussions – the same probably also applies to the webb. These differences may almost be called culture differences.

    Congratulations on your clever way to invite us to use the keyboard! One comment may become a habit!

  19. […] It almost wouldn’t be a ‘Roast without a link to Darren. This week we have two! Oooh, I do spoil y’all. Firstly, an article on the gender differential in blogging sparked my brain into working. As a female blogger I would say I have noticed more men out there than women, but I’m used to that from the field I’ve been working in lately, so it doesn’t seem too unusual. That in itself got me thinking on a whole host of things that might work themselves into a post in the near future. With regards comments I know I have a reluctance to post comments. It’s something I’m trying to overcome, but whether that reluctance is just personal reticence, or because I am female… Well, therein lies an entire PhD all to itself. […]

  20. Off topic but a real pet peeve of mine is that when we are talking about humans the appropriate gender terms are men and women or man and woman or boy or girl. Female and male is a non-specific adjective for all species of animal and some plant life. Please, lets use human terms for humans.

    (end mini-rant)

    P.S. Don’t worry about the age thing as most children or young people will and do figure out what category they fall into.

  21. […] Blog Gender Theories: ProBlogger Darren Rowse recently conducted a poll on his ProBlogger site to determine the proportion of male/female readers. In this post he considered what the resultant stats and the m/f balance in commenting might mean re gender and blogging (tags: gender_theory blogging) Share or Save this post:These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. […]

  22. Hi,
    I am a heavy reader of this site, yet it took me a long while to get accustomed to it. The layout was not appealing to me at all. I remember the first time I came here, I tried to find someting useful but it was so much text all over the place, that it was quite impossible for me to figure out why this blog is so popular. I think it was the third time I came when my attention was catched by a post. Then I spent many hours reading and I keep on coming back every few days to check what’s new.

    As a conclusion, I believe the layout makes female audience rather stay away (as I noticed on other blogs a lot of comments written by females and I spotted also great blogs written by females).

  23. I have to agree with Simonne, and this is a very very personal perception (my being a web designer being part of the equation too): I think the overall look and feel (or maybe in a wider sense, “presence”) of this blog screams “male”. I’m a female and I read the blog just as much as many other women do, the topics interest me, but I have a feeling (added to other reasons already given by other commenters) that the topics you write about interest more men than women in general (even though you have plenty of female readers!) and when women are here, they might have the feeling that they are in a predominantly male environment – the look and feel, the topics, the commenters themselves, even you… Then, when something like a group writing project like this one comes along, allowing “them” to post in their own blogs (their own environment), I guess women feel more comfortable contributing. I don’t know, I’m thinking out loud here, I could be completely off, but just my 5 cents anyway..

  24. Nene Contreras says: 02/10/2007 at 9:27 pm

    Hi Problogger,

    Please pay particular attention to the time when the posting were done.

    Do you know that in this day and age of so called emancipation and empowerment of women, they still are expected by the society and by their familes and husbands to take care of household chores. So women who are working, women who have children and who have to do most of the shouehold chores have barely time to sit on a computer to blog!



  25. […] I decided to do a bit of research. Problogger has made similar observations but on a larger scale than me. In a online poll of 799 site visitors, 72% of respondents were male, 28% female. When they analaysed the gender of the 300 people leaving comments in one month, 90% were male and 10% female. […]

  26. […] Gender in Blog Participation I began to wonder whether guys males felt more comfortable with the whole commenting thing and/or whether females tended to respond better to other forms of blogging activities and invitations (tags: blogs bloggen bloggerInnen gender genderblog web2) […]

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