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Monday, September 14, 2009

2nd Monday Discussion: Where are the Women Bloggers?

Last week RevGalBlogPals received an email pointing to a discussion that included one of our member blogs. It came from Patrick McCullough, who posed a question to our Julie Clawson, which she posted at Emerging Women.

Here it is:
"Why do you think there aren’t more women blogging about academic biblical studies? If you have some knowledge about biblical studies, but are not a “biblioblogger,” why not?"

This may go to an even more interesting question. How much communication is there between male and female clergy bloggers? Do male bloggers simply not notice female bloggers? Or are our blogs more multi-disciplinary and not as easy to categorize?

Recently, Church Relevance published a list of the Top 100 Church Blogs. There were about 7 written by women.

This raises questions of standards for granting status and forms of networking and perhaps even the relative invisibility of some people in other people's eyes.

I would ask our bloggers, what is your experience with other faith blogs on the web? Do you cross-connect with bloggers, male or female, who have a different theological perspective? Do you write about the Bible? And could we consider ourselves bibliobloggers if we aren't writing strictly academic posts?

Please chime in via the comments.

(And if you might like to volunteer to host 2nd Monday next month, let me know here. We'll be trying new formats and will choose a permanent feature later in the year.)


  1. Oh, and my answer to Julie's question? The women bloggers are right here. :-)

  2. I wonder... in relation to Patrick's question concerning women blogging about academic biblical studies....
    not sure what it's like stateside, but in my small corner in Edinburgh, the overwhelming majority of postgrads are certainly male. Today is induction day for the new lot and a friend and I counted and the ratio is looking about 3/4 men to 1/4 women. Of the men, we were looking for other clues: wedding rings - there were poss. 3/4 wedding rings to 1/4 not and not all married men wear wedding rings. Of the female PG's, the tendency is again the other end of the scale. Interesting, eh?
    The question might rather be asked where are the women as opposed to why?

  3. First - I really do need to get involved with RevGals again, and so if you need someone for 2nd Mondays - sign me up! I'll do whatever.

    Second - I wonder if part of the answer to the question is that women's blogs tend to be more life-encompassing than strictly biblical/academic based. Occasionally I'll do an academic post, but they are sandwiched in between posts about practical ministry, my cats, what it is like to be a female pastor, etc.

    That being said, I was at the emergent village Moltmann conversation this week and my academic thoughts have started churning again!

  4. Nik, what a great question. I have no idea what you would find here. I know a lot of women who are academic bloggers, but in other fields.
    Katie Z, thanks for the offer. I always love those events that get the wheels turning differently.

  5. I think it's the academic discipline itself. As a woman who did my doctoral work in biblical studies back in the 80's, it seemed like a field that both narrowly construed the issues it dealt with and relied strongly on the good-old-boy network. Over the years since, though as I've moved into a parish, I've largely left that academic discipline (at least as it's done in traditional academia), it doesn't seem like much has changed on that front. So, few women in biblical academia, few bibliobloggers.

  6. From where I sit:

    I think the number of bloggers reflects, to some degree, the real ratio of men to women in academia (as Nik's note attests). And at the risk of steroetyping, I suspect that some of our female academics are doing more "life juggling" than their male counterparts, i.e. managing the daily wants and needs of a household. The portion of women who are empty-nesters or single that might have time for such an activity may be investing their time in more relational endeavors, rather than intellectual ones, again as a means of balance.

    But finally I think it really does come down to authority and the perceptions of who has authority in the church. Women in positions of authority and who have authoritative voices are still young in the context of so many years of patriarchy. We lack the credibility in the eyes of the world, so much of which still perceives women as tenders of home, not head.

    Anyway, that is what occurs to me this morning as I think about it.

  7. As a biblical scholar let me say that I am very careful as a pre-Tenure scholar about what goes out under my name. (I'm up for tenure this year and covet your prayers.) That being said I do post a few things (many more on FB). My post on Intersex Bodies and Scripture (in response to the Caster Semoya questioning) is here:
    I do post sermons and some lectures and articles on my faculty webpage:
    The other biblical scholars whose blogs come to mind are Renita Weems ( and Julia O'brien (

  8. Very thought-provoking question! My first inclination is to agree with the idea that women who blog are more inclined to cover a broader spectrum of topics. But that begs the question of why that would be so...

    I did think of the blog of a friend who is an NT professor; she briefly addressed this same question here:

    Although there are certainly fewer women in academia, there are still plenty of great female theologians who are in other settings; maybe they are simply too busy to blog.

    Or perhaps it is the tone of the blogs...are women more likely then men to write on exactly the same topic in a way that is more inclusive of all of life/experience, thus somehow making their reflections and analysis seem less scholarly (according to a traditional model)?

  9. I agree with Songbird: the women faith bloggers are here!

    I think the McCullough question about biblical scholars is not addressing the same issue as in the Top 100 Church Blogs.

    Seems to me that the former is about serious Biblical scholarship, and the latter is simply church related. Like "stuff Christians like" and "church marketing sucks."

  10. Well, I guess part of the issue is that many religious blogs that I run into are of the mindset that women pastors are anathema. It's why I don't allow anonymous comments, AND why I remove rude ones which don't have a profile that can be traced.

    I'm a little worried sometimes that my outspokenness will prevent my getting a job when I graduate, but as my spouse points out... my opinions will come to light all too quickly once I'm hired, so I might as well just be me.

    And I'm good with that. :)


  11. Speaking for myself (and a few others) we're all busy (all women, clergy, academics), but when we women who are biblical scholars do sit down to write something other than syllabyi, sermons, lectures and talks, we're writing what we need to publish. And there is some resistance to publishing what has already been available on-line. Many of us are writing material for the wider public, for religious women, for clergy and seminarians and the wider church, some online, some not. The biblical scholars who I know blog are past the publish/perish stage. My question is will the blogosphere buy our work when we publish traditionally? (Thanks RevGals for supporting me, I'm speaking more broadly.)

  12. That's a great point, Wil.
    I also find that when I do read male bibliobloggers, the posts are (I'm speaking broadly here) set up not to open an idea but to close one. Comments are either supportive or argumentative. I'm interested in exploring things, not arguing about them. So this may be a style question.
    And frankly, I'm writing about life application and moments of recognition. This makes me a faith blogger rather than a Bible blogger, I guess.

  13. What an interesting question! I find myself thinking (God help me, I'm being kind of stereotypical here) of the illustration of most men's brains being like little boxes while most women's brains are like spaghetti. So women might be more likely to blog more broadly....ahahaha...sorry. No sexist pun intentended till after I wrote what I read. If so, it might explain the sandwiching in that Katie Z speaks of. And I agree with what altar ego says about perceptions of authority. And, sadly, with what Deb said: "many religious blogs that I run into are of the mindset that women pastors are anathema..."

  14. At risk of sounding sexist, I suspect that it's partly because men and women are different. Our brains don't work in the same way. My blog, like many of the RevGal blogs, does have theological/scholarly stuff, mixed in with the joys and challenges of day-to-day life.

    I'm pretty certain that I'm not the only female theologian who has had commenters attempt to leave notes about why I should not be allowed to preach. It's happened more than once, always on my theological posts, and always anonymously (I never publish the comments). I haven't stopped blogging my theology, but I've been tempted to do so. I suspect that there are some women who just don't want to deal with the hassle; frankly, I can't blame them.

    In short, I don't think there is an easy, one-size-fits-all answer to this question!

  15. I've been fascinated to read the responses this question is getting here and at other sites around the web. There is truth in all of the answers - a sort of "all of the above" sort of thing. What I've been wondering though is how we can change that. There are a lot of great women bloggers (just look at this site!!!), and I think it is vitally important for the church to hear our voices. But how to make that happen? on one hand there are practical cultural practices that need to shift - like having more women entering seminary for one. And as diverse as the mainline seminaries may or may not be, you know the evangelical ones have very few women in attendance - that needs to change. Even at the Emergent Theological Conversation with Jurgen Moltmann this past week there were only a handful of us women there - the smallest representation they have ever had. Women just need to be out there more.

    But there also needs to be a mentality shift that values holistic presentations of faith just as much as straight biblical studies or theology. Some of us are doing biblical studies, plus theology, plus church life, plus family life, plus social justice, plus counseling, plus cultural anthropology... That is faith for us, and it is just as valid and as important as those who focus strictly on one discipline. In fact it may be the future of the faith. But it has to be respected and read in order for the women to be respected and read.

    I don't know how to change culture, but I do know how to call the men I know to model a better way. I can ask them why there are so few women on their blogroll on linked in their posts. I can ask them why there are so few women on their reading lists. And I can challenge them to change that. its not always the best solution, but sometimes it takes a jumpstart to get things going.

  16. Wow. What to say that hasn't already been said? Realities that academia is still male-dominated and whatever gender differences exist (that might relate to blogging patterns) notwithstanding, I definitely think that this is an issue where bloggers of faith (not the same as "bibliobloggers," as has already been recognized, but even so) who believe that women can be pastors, scholars, etc., need to step up and be more vocal about doing so.

    For myself, I admit that I'm not good about this on a lot of issues. Tensions between family and friends (and I actually pride myself on having a diverse group of them, including quite a number of right-wingers) actually scare me out of standing up and speaking out on a number of things I care deeply about, but advocating for full inclusion of women is something I try to be more consistent about, regardless of the potential consequences. One thing I especially try to convince my more conservative friends about is that this is actually not an issue raised only by modern feminists, but has in fact been around for a long time. In fact, a friend recently showed me a sight demonstrating that certain "male centric" changes themselves came about more recently then I'd previously believed.

  17. What an interesting discussion!

    I will answer the second part of the question for myself - "If you have some knowledge about biblical studies, but are not a 'biblioblogger,' why not?"

    I am not a biblioblogger or even a faith blogger, I am a craftblogger, with a smattering of mommyblogger. When I started my blog, I was looking to be a part of a community which felt safe and affirming. Blogging about faith/Bible/church just didn't seem like it would be that for me. Issues of the Bible or of faith inevitably end up becoming sources of conflict and controversy, and frankly I encounter enough of that in my real life. When it came to my blog, I didn't want to have to defend, argue, or explain.

    Furthermore, when I do write about faith/Bible/church (as in sermons or articles), I always want it to represent my absolute best, clearest thinking. My blogging is more of-the-moment than that. And it would really bother me to put something faith-related out there in the ether that I couldn't edit or take back.

    Now that I'm writing all of this, I realize that I sound very self-protective. And I guess I am. And maybe that's part of the answer about why more male bibliobloggers than female. I think as a woman I am always thinking about how to protect myself professionally in a way that most of my male counterparts don't have to think about to quite the same degree.

  18. p.s. I should add that I would never be a true mommyblogger for the same reasons I just mentioned above - too much controversy. Too much judging and critique going on in that sphere for me, which is the same thing I would fear about faithblogs.

  19. hmmm, somebody else noted that these are two different questions: where are the women "biblio bloggers", and why are there so few in the top 100?

    I think they are two different questions, and both are worth addressing, though I don't have an answer, just some musings.

    One musing I have has to do with a comment I left on a male pastor's blog, one of our ELCA blogs. It had to do with our recent controversial decision. Another man (not of my denomination) left a snide comment about my use of the word "feel" in my (short) comment, which left me thinking that a lot of men still think we can't be rigorous thinkers, because we do, occasionally, use the word "feel."

    Also, a fair number (though not all) of the blogs listed are conservative (John Piper tops the list); perhaps there's just a lot more conservative Christian presence out there.

    Not sure.

    Good question(s).

    And the church does need our voices and perspectives.

    As for me, I can do the biblical/scholarly stuff, but I've never felt that scholarly writing was the thing I was most called to do.

  20. I went and looked at the list (following a link from I don't remember where) of the top 100. But only 181 were in the running to begin with! And, of those, there is no way to determine how many are by women because all 181 are not listed. How can we be sure the question is valid when we can't look at all of those considered? If only 181 blogs were considered and our Blog ring has 382 members, how can this be a "valid or credible" top 100? Maybe we need to make and publish a list of our own top blogs.

  21. Don't I sound like some one working on a PhD? I learned well, attack the methodology ...

    Meanwhile, don't put my blog in the top anything list but be sure Songbird's is on it.

  22. Oh, pshaw, Vicar. But I would like to know where this blog would stand using the methodology employed by that website. We haven't tried any strategies to grow our daily traffic other than having varied content on a reasonably regular schedule.

  23. Which is to say, I know some sites embed words to drive traffic towards the page. We haven't done anything like that.

  24. Interesting question posed by Julie, but I wonder if hat happens is that women, even women accademics come at stuff from different angles to the men. I reflect throguh narrative and poetry, this is not anti- accademic, it is merely different. Some accademic blogs seem dry as dust to me...

    Do women blog differently? Now there is another question...

  25. Thanks for all this - it is a fascinating discussion.

    I may have missed someone saying this (in which case, forgive me, it's been a long day.. and isn't over yet!) but I wonder whether men generally (yes, a generalisation - so sue me!) 'take' to blogging better because it's more about putting what you think out there & less about relating and conversing with others?

    I find blogging hard compared to say talking to a colleague over a cup of tea. I think many women want to relate and connect and not just ponitificate.

    I know that if I was really 21st century I'd see blogging as more relational... and I know there are excellent blogs out there which are not just electronic soap-boxes.. but even so ....

  26. A comment left on my blog today illustrates the difference, I think. I put out some stream of consciousness thoughts this morning that were provocatively inconclusive, or I hoped they were, and got a response from a male clergy blogger who insisted there was a "right" and a "wrong" to the question I explored. I am more interested in exploration than rightness.

  27. I think Songbird is on to something there.

  28. I tried to email them my blog URL and the email bounced... just FYI


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