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The Europe Roundup: Why are Political Blogs Dominated by Men?

BY Antonella Napolitano | Thursday, July 14 2011

  • UK | Why are political blogs dominated by men

    The Hansard Society has a new report out entitled "Gender And Digital Politics" in which the three authors examine the question: “Why are political blogs dominated by men?“:

    Gender and Digital Politics examines overall levels of internet access and activity and finds generally similar levels across the genders. However, when it comes to more active online political participation, such as writing blog posts or commenting on blogs, the figures are usually male dominated:

    • 80% of MPs' blogs are by men
    • 85% of political media blogs are by men
    • 93% of councillors' blogs are by men
    • 85% of individual blogs in Total Politics Political Blog Awards 2010 were written by men
    • 79% of blog posts and 90% of comments on Lib Dem Voice blog (to November 2010) were written by men

    The reports says that this phenomenon has more to do with women being under-represented in politics than any special gender bias in political blogging: the gender pattern in the world of digital politics is similar to the gender composition of Parliament - notes the press release. And, even if the number of women MPs is small, their use of online tools is not dissimilar to that of their male counterparts.

    The overall findings of the study aren't very flattering for men, either: the main feature of the blogging activities most likely conducted by men seems to involve self-promotion, points out AndyWilliamson, Director of the Hansard Society's Digital Democracy programme:

    ‘While writing and commenting on political blogs seems to be dominated by men; it mirrors other offline and non-political activities such as writing letters to newspapers for publication. Overall, the evidence for online politics suggests that the more an activity involves self-promotion, the more likely there is to be a male dominance. Where women are active in politics, they are equally as likely as their male counterparts to be digitally active.' 

    The scenario seems to be complex and involves many different factors. Some believe these findings suggest that women have better things to do than blog; others say it is because female political bloggers are more likely to be marginalized.
    BBC's Brian Wheeler reports on the research:

    Feminist and socialist Laurie Penny, who has made a splash in left wing circles with her Penny Red blog, was not impressed with the report's suggestion that men are better at promoting themselves online.
    "The idea that men are more suited to self-promotion is nonsense.
    "It can be more difficult for women to engage in political blogs because of the levels of sexism and personal abuse on most of the mainstream sites.
    'On the other hand, there are powerful political blogs that are entirely dominated by women like Mumsnet - they're just not the sort of spaces that the Westminster bubble typically thinks of as political, precisely because the assumption is that women's issues aren't real politics."

    So is the dominance of political male bloggers a problem of digital inclusion or more of a social construct?

  • EU | How to Keep Track of EU Law Developments 
    PdF friend and leading Euroblogger Jon Worth puts together all the best online resources to follow the developments of EU Law.
    The official sources do not have RSS feeds but there are blogs, newsletter and people to follow on Twitter.

    (1) Newsletters 
    Consensus that this is nothing free that’s better than the Law Society one. In German there are newsletters from Bundesrechtsanwaltskammer (BRAK) and Deutscher Anwaltverein (DAV). For a paid service a number of people suggested Tomson Reuters Lawtel.

    (2) Blogs 
    Keep an eye on ECJblogGrahn LawEU Law and Vihar Georgiev. There’s also the EU Law tag on Head of Legal. Best way to keep on top of many blogs is to use a RSS reader – see this guide about how to do it.

    (3) Twitter
    There’s a lively EU law discussion on Twitter – follow @carlgardner, @vihargg, @ronpatz, @ralfgrahn@axelhorns, @allardknook and @auremah.

    Anything else to add?

  • EU | A Public Consultation on Social Investment Funds
    The European Commission has launched a consultation on whether to create a Social Investment Fund:

    The consultation seeks feedback on possible options for aiding social businesses by means of investments from private individuals channelled through investment funds. Investment funds are an established mechanism for matching investors and those seeking investments, and could help social businesses get funding. Some initial feedback on the Single Market Act has suggested certain barriers to funding social businesses in this way might exist, because of the nature of these businesses, and possibly because of existing rules applying to those running funds. The consultation outlines some of the issues and asks for input on possible next steps.

    You can contribute as citizen, on behalf of an organisation or a public autohority until September 14th.

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