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When women blog, it’s fashion?

Sun, Jul 27, 2008

Bloggers, In the News

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The New York Times has done it again. They’ve taken a story about women in tech and relegated it to the Fashion and Style section. In “Blogging’s Glass Ceiling,” a story about last week’s BlogHer conference, Kara Jesella wrote, “There is a measure of parity on the Web. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, among Internet users, 14 percent of men and 11 percent of women blog….Yet, when Techcult, a technology Web site, recently listed its top 100 Web celebrities, only 11 of them were women. Last year, Forbes.com ran a similar list, naming 3 women on its list of 25.”

Well, hello! Yes, there’s a glass ceiling. And instead of addressing the question, the New York Times editors are part of the problem. A story about men who blog, especially if they had built the kind of powerhouse network the BlogHer folks have, would have run in the business or technology section of the newspaper. But women’s accomplishments in the blogosphere are celebrated in Fashion and Style.

New York Times article Blogging’s Glass Ceiling

 

(Hat tip to Amber Naslund for pointing out the Times story and the disparity.)

A few months ago, in my post Five White Men Talk About Social Media, I pointed to another New York Times article that diminished the accomplishments of women by its placement in the Fashion and Style section. “Sorry, Boys, This Is Our Domain,” by Stephanie Rosenbloom, details the gender gap in tech among teenagers. “Research shows that among the youngest Internet users, the primary creators of Web content (blogs, graphics, photographs, Web sites) are not misfits resembling the Lone Gunmen of ‘The X Files.’ On the contrary,” Rosenbloom wrote, “the cyberpioneers of the moment are digitally effusive teenage girls.”

These women cyberpioneers, young and old, will have a better chance at smashing through blogging’s glass ceiling when editors quit assuming that all stories about women belong in the Fashion section.

 

UPDATE:   Tricia Romano at Pop + Politics asked the New York Times, Do you need a suit and a penis to be in the business section? She published Style section editor Trip Gabriel’s response. Short answer: the journalist only pitched the story to Fashion & Style, not the technology or business sections. For the online edition, the story has now been cross-posted under Technology.

This post was written by:

Connie Reece - who has written 152 posts on Every Dot Connects.


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18 Comments For This Post

  1. Amber Naslund Says:

    Hi Connie – Great post. I keep wondering where the female editors are, and if they’re there, why they’re not jumping up and down to change this. Glass ceilings have existed everywhere for centuries, but even as the internet manages to break down so many cultural, racial, spiritual and personal barriers, it seems that we still have work to do. Thanks for putting in your perspective, too.

  2. Sharon Elin Says:

    Oh, my! Have I time-travelled back to the 1970s or am I just on a time-warped treadmill going nowhere? I thought we (women) had advanced in the world’s eyes at least a tad more than this! You and Amber pointed out a snidely-cloaked insult by a cultural powerhouse. The NY Times has a huge following, and whether readers directly notice this misplacement of the article or just unconsciously respond (many by skipping over the section altogether), it serves to perpetuate the stereotypes about women that date back to our grandparents’ generation – namely, that men are concerned with world events, business, politics, and finance, while women knit booties and plan garden club parties. This is a travesty! I hope you’ve sent your blog post to the NY Times editors. Shame on them!

  3. Jackie Huba Says:

    Connie,
    Thanks for pointing this out. I read the article online this morning but didn’t notice in which section of the Times it was listed. This is really lame.

  4. Lori Magno Says:

    Rock on Connie, correct on all counts. Not surpising given editorial attitudes about categorizing bloggers into “mommy” bloggers et al. You are far more likely to see men referred to as “writing in the technology sector” than women.

  5. Kim Dushinski Says:

    Connie:

    You are SO right on with this post! There was nothing in the article even about fashion or style, but evidentially that is all the NYT thinks women care about or are about.

    Let’s show them what power we do have and boycott them. If all the women who are the decision makers in their household voted with their dollars ans topped buying their paper or clicking on their online ads it would hit them very clearly just how powerful women are.

  6. Karen Swim Says:

    Thanks Connie for bringing this to my attention. I am constantly reminded that we have much work to do. It is interesting that we still continue to deal with the same inequities of gender and race. (If you think women are not getting fair coverage, the Blogging While Brown conference and African American bloggers in general receive no coverage!) We have come a long way but the journey is not over. Thank you for speaking out on this critical issue!

  7. Ryan Deschamps Says:

    My favorite blog by Kathy Sierra, Creating Passionate Users got completely stopped by evil people. The glass ceiling is real and there are plenty enough bullies in the blogosphere to keep it going for a long time.

    Hate to say it, but there’s still alot of bravery required for women to break out of all the societal ‘ceilings’ around for women.

  8. Laura P Thomas Says:

    Just wanted to join the others here in saying thank you Connie for pointing this out.

    I keep thinking the topic of women in social media getting short shrift by the mainstream media, conferences and workshops is old news, only to see it rise again.

    Hopefully, if we continue to point it out over & over, it will finally begin to sink in as a real issue.

  9. George Bolam Says:

    What constantly amazes me is that good content can be devalued in some way, simply because of who produced it. Good content is good content, whether it be produced by a man, woman or a reasonably lucid chimpanzee. One would expect competent editors to be delighted to have it, and to use it to their full advantage, and that of their publication.

    For myself, I am happy to be enlightened by anyone talking sense, and I’m pretty confident that is the case for the vast majority of readers. Irrespective of authorship, articles and items worth reading should be placed where the audience most likely to be interested in them will find them, and benefit from the compass of the material. It is patronising to both author and reader, alike, for worthwhile content to be positioned on the basis of who wrote it, rather than the relevance of the topic or treatment..

    I’m often impressed by female writers knowledge and experience in a wide variety of fields, not because they are women, but simply because they know what they are talking about, and have interesting, worthwhile, useful, helpful and informative things to say. I tend to notice who wrote a piece after I’ve read it, when, by then, I have decided whether I want to know more about the author or not. I’m sure many people do that. Content is king, (or maybe I should say queen? ;-) ), isn’t it?

    It’s about time the world thought in terms of people, rather than gender, for that’s what we all are, rather than two seperate races. As a fairly simple soul, I’m as baffled by this syndrome as the many women commenting here are irritated by it..

    George Bolam

  10. Aruni Gunasegaram Says:

    How ironic that an article about blogging’s glass ceiling is put in the fashion section. It’s amazing they don’t see the irony in that.

    I’m always curious as to how people rank things. Most likely it’s by number of comments, number of visitors, etc. but let’s try to measure the amount of change it has affected on each individual’s life personally and/or professionally then I think you’ll see a different ranking. Trouble is, that is hard to measure just like the impact that women have on the individual lives they touch and as such in the current world of established measurement metrics us women often get overlooked.

    I guess we just need to work on changing the metrics. :-)

  11. Connie Reece Says:

    Thank you all for the comments. As @Amber mentioned – where are the female editors? As for @Karen, I can only imagine how difficult it must be to get coverage for African American bloggers.

    @George, I especially appreciate your comment, both because of your perspective as a man and your viewpoint that good content is good content, period. I wish that were universally true.

    I just posted an update when I found out that the journalist who wrote the story only pitched it to the Fashion & Style section. Perhaps there is the bigger problem: a female journalist who only has contacts with the Style section editor, who happens to be a man.

    Question: If you had been in the writer’s shoes, would you have pitched this story to the Business or Technology section, even though your past experience had been with the Style section? I’m curious as to how others would have handled this.

  12. Deb Robison Says:

    You know, as a PR person who LOVES pitching stories, I could not imagine pitching this to a Style section. My first thought would be technology and if my angle were to be focused on aspects such as financing/business model/organizational culture/parity I would go to the business section. On Plurk I noted that the Style section has also run two articles on professional women athlete’s with video picturing technical training tips- not something the average Style section reader would use. I think it is great that the Times is willing to cover women making advances, but by trivializing it by not putting the article in the section they belong in is egregious. And what is up with business/technology/sports editors letting good stories run in another section? Are they willing to let another editor run away with good stories?

  13. Greg Hollingsworth Says:

    I agree that the article was misplaced, but is there an upside to this placement that is being overlooked? I hate to embrace stereotypes, but is it possible that more women were exposed to the article by placing it in the fashion section as opposed to burying on page 12 of the Biz/Tech section?

    Let me reiterate, I agree with all of your points Connie, it doesn’t belong in Fashion/Style, but do the majority of female readers of the NYT read the business section or the Fashion Style section? It’s just a question, please don’t think I mean any disrespect.

  14. Connie Reece Says:

    @Deb, I appreciate your insights as a PR person. My first thought would be the Business section as it shows blogging coming of age and attracting advertising $$.

    @Greg, thanks for continuing our discussion on Plurk over here. I would have positioned the article to get more readers, period, not just women readers. When you’re talking about “glass ceilings,” it’s a workplace issue that affects both men and women.

  15. Mike Chapman Says:

    Great post, Connie. Paul Krugman, who is a featured political columnist for the NY Times recently said the paper is becoming less important than blogs for real news and opinion and that it become more of an fashion and arts publication based on marketing research. In view of that they should consider putting real news, such as the article you refer to, in the real news sections for their own strategic benefit as well as it being the right thing to do. Thanks for pointing this out.

  16. dotlizard Says:

    i am glad that they have made the appropriate category changes, the original journalist who pitched it in ‘fashion’ should be ashamed. that shows a very serious lack of perspective.

  17. Erika Says:

    Excellent post Connie! Glad that you added the update too, at least someone over there was thinking (even if with 20/20 hindsight). One would think, that in this postfeminist era of ours that women would get a little bit more respect than the Fashion/Style pages (especially those women doing something and saying something powerful).

  18. Tee Says:

    Great post…however, from a different perspective I am a fashion blogger. And to be honest it’s a sad but proven fact that women are expected to be fashion bloggers to get anywhere in the blogosphere and that alot of times fashion bloggers are not taken seriously. I think the real problem with a lot of women who blog is that they ignore the glass ceiling. Why aren’t the fashion and style editors saying… “hey this doesn’t belong here”. A great post I found is “Women Power Bloggers: Inside the Minds of Today’s Successful Female Bloggers” (http://techstarlet.blogspot.com/2008/01/women-power-bloggers-inside-minds-of.html) which is a two part series that highlights women bloggers from all subject matters… thought it would be a great read for this discussion.