My name is danah boyd and I'm a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research and the founder/president of Data & Society. Buzzwords in my world include: privacy, context, youth culture, social media, big data. I use this blog to express random thoughts about whatever I'm thinking.

Relevant links:

Archive

@ Blogher

I’m at Blogher, which is a trip. Of course, the first thing you notice is how people greet each other – hugs, kisses, screams, joy. There’s no feathers flailing, chests puffing. I smiled – i’m so used to the boys’ world. I decided to sit back and watch the boys who are attending. The ones who usually have the most colorful feathers are sitting back, shoulders hunched, listening, trying. I remember what it was like when i first went to etech – i didn’t know how to talk to anyone. I knew no one and i felt like such an outsider. I was afraid of looking stupid. I wonder if they feel that way here.

I have to admit that the beginning conversation really got to me. There’s definitely a lot of frustration and anger here, frustration over the purported authority of the men in blogging, anger over the validation that the mass media gives them. So there was a lot of airing that negativity. That’s hard to hear.

Some of it, unfortunately, was lacking facts. One issue came up over the fact that women don’t network. Well, that’s bullshit. Actually, women are traditionally the maintainers of domestic social networks. They tend to network more than men. The gender difference concerns the style of networking. Men are more likely to gather many weak ties; women tend to work hard to maintain strong ties. Each have their value. But when it comes to technology like Technorati, there is a validation of weak ties over strong ties. Or more actually, there’s an assumption that all ties are created equal, which inadvertently validates the weak ties over the strong ties.

My argument here is that we need to pay attention to the network structures. If folks are angry about their position in some purported hierarchy, they need to understand how the hierarchy works. And then change it. I’m not interested in having separate networks; i’m interested in making certain that people understand the gender bias they build into the network and that it represents a diversity of perspectives, is flexible to deal with a diversity of social structures.

Anyhow, it’s a fascinating place to be. I’m not going to be good about blogging this conference so definitely watch the links on Blogher.

Technorati Tags:

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

10 comments to @ Blogher

  • you rock!!! i would have gone but i have family stuff going on. i totally agree about the difference in how we network. it is really frustrating though, i feel like a lot of men either don’t get it or don’t care when you bring up gender/power issues. these are funny but so true: http://www.sapphosbreathing.com/archives/000563.html

  • Blogher – Not a Guy Alone

    Well, I don’t want you to worry about me here at Blogher surrounded by all of these fabulous women bloggers… There are others of the male persuasion including Buzzhit’s Tony Gentile who was sitting right next to me at the…

  • thanks for the commentary on your observations today. I am still trying to understand the difference between the male/female mindsets. I think it was at sxsw where the contrast between males and females in conferences was astounding. The one panel was about women in the web – these were the women in positions of influence and advancement, yet i came away rather shocked at the self-esteem/internal confidence or the way the system beat up the inards of females in the workforce. if the same panel was done with only men, the chest thumping alpha male behavior would have come forth on stage – and probably with less depth, perhaps intelligence, yet more perceived einsteinian factor? Why is it that people strive to appear to have their stuff together externally, yet forget the inards? Just a curious question for you. it is sort of like this morning in the coffee shop, the contrast worked the opposite way with an old farmer with a heart of gold, yet a steel exterior contrasting with the medically enhanced woman that perhaps in her mind thought she was the cat’s meow – yet when in looked in her eyes….there wasn’t much to be seen. if nothing, people are fascinating

  • Jo

    I enjoyed your comments, both in the large room (about hierarchy being different for men and women, interesting) and in the academic blogging session. I am a friend of Badger’s. Also, I liked your HAT. It was excellent.

  • the biases of links

    I have a hard time respecting anyone who believes that science or technology is neutral. Unfortunately, even when people consciously know that they are not, they give credence to the biased outputs without questioning the underlying assumptions. This i…

  • Lilith

    Chest-thumping? Such stereotyping is just bigoted… and troubling.

    But construing Technorati’s technology as some gender discrimination conspiracy simply boggles the mind…

  • Gender

    A couple of things of late about gender differences on the web. Researchers at the University of Glamorgan have been looking at the relative appeal of websites to men and women:”We started off by looking at the personal websites created by 60 universit…

  • jody

    I worked at a very large, 98% women organization and my experience of women networking gathering at conferences is quite different. I enourage you to attend more women focused events to see the entire spectrum.

  • Jody – tell me more of what you are referring to. My experience of women networking is through the feminist community (i used to work in all women companies).

  • I think it was at sxsw where the contrast between males and females in conferences was astounding. The one panel was about women in the web – these were the women in positions of influence and advancement, yet i came away rather shocked at the self-esteem/internal confidence or the way the system beat up the inards of females in the workforce. if the same panel was done with only men, the chest thumping alpha male behavior would have come forth on stage – and probably with less depth, perhaps intelligence, yet more perceived einsteinian factor?