Why Don't Female Economists Blog?

Photo: iStockphoto Collection

Eight of the top 100 male economists (according to RePEc’s rankings) write a blog. But of the 39 women who ranked in the top 1,000, none  blog.  Matthew Kahn examines this disparity, writing, “A Household Production Theory of leisure would posit that men have more leisure time than working women and that nerdy guys spend more time reading and writing blog posts (such as this one). If women who work are also providing more time in ‘home production’ in cooking and rearing children then the time budget constraint will bind.”  How big of a problem is this?  Is blogging really a valuable pasttime?  Kahn thinks it is: “The shrewd academic uses his blog to market his ideas and to ‘amplify’ his new academic results. This is a type of branding … If women are not participating in this sector, then excellent women are losing certain opportunities that the blogger class takes for granted.” Hunches/theories?


No idea, though it's worth noting that Wikipedia is overwhelmingly edited by males. I am a member of a number of online political discussion forums and these too are male-majority. One, an International Relations forum, had several female owners and at some stages female members were disproportionately represented among the moderators. Female members behaved similarly to males, they were just as eager for aggressive debate. But there were simply far fewer of them. Don't really know why.


Sounds like self-selection to me.


Since there are only a few women in the top 1,000 then why don't you just save some time and just ask them? Wouldn't that be the easiest way to find out?

Chris Masse

It seems obvious to me that all this is additional proof that women are not good at transcendence.

Shri Ram Vetury

This is a really interesting blog post. In stark contrast to these findings, was a recent TED talk by Joanna Blakey on how social media is influencing gender neutral participation in online communities. Joanna argues that 'Women actually outnumber men in their use of social media.' Perhaps economists are an exception to this rule - at 7% for men anyway, that is significantly lower than so many other professions. Interesting.

Veera Luhtala

I'd see participating in social media more like staying in contact with peeps via facebook than blogging about my views on things. It's more about the discussion and less about giving a lecture.


Too busy making sammiches? :)


I'd argue that most of the "household use of labor" arguments suggesting that women work more make some questionable assumptions. If the Telegraph is to be believed, in a recent such survey by the OECD "shopping, soaking in the bath, grooming, having a lie-in or taking a long lunch all count as work rather than leisure. " I've seen similar reports (and perhaps it's even in this OECD one) in which things like lawn maintenance, home repairs, and the like are considered as male leisure time.

Similarly, other reports like the World Economic Forum's dubiously titled Global Gender Gap Index focus on female empowerment rather than a global gender gap. See p. 4/5 of that report: "The type of scale chosen determines whether the index is rewarding women’s empowerment or gender equality. To capture gender equality, two possible scales were considered. One was a negative-positive scale capturing the size and direction of the gender gap.This scale essentially penalizes either men’s advantage over women or women’s advantage over men, and gives the highest points to absolute equality.The second was a one-sided scale that measures how close women are to reaching parity with men but does not reward or penalize countries for having a gender gap in the other direction.Thus it does not reward countries for having exceeded the parity benchmark. We find the one-sided scale more appropriate for our purposes."


Ian Fellows

Or, they blog at exactly the same rate (p-value=.1055). A classic over-interpretation of the available data.

R Code:

> table(c)
a female male
0 39 92
1 0 8
> fisher.test(table(c))

Fisher's Exact Test for Count Data

data: table(c)
p-value = 0.1055
alternative hypothesis: true odds ratio is not equal to 1
95 percent confidence interval:
0.6830081 Inf
sample estimates:
odds ratio


I have always thought that women are much better at forcing themselves to do things they don't really enjoy than men are. If that is true, then perhaps women are more likely to be good at economics without really liking it all that much, and consequently, when given the choice, opt out of a blog.


A similar question was just addressed in a blog post by a female mathematician. The short version of her theory: female academics in male-dominated subjects are already forced (by under-the-surface sexism) to reestablish their credentials over and over to be taken seriously; entering a new arena that will make the same disproportionate demands on them is not an attractive option.

Sam P

Woman don't like the confrontational style that most online blogs entail. The few women I know that do have blogs have commenting turned off.

Here's a NYT article which might answer some questions:



"The shrewd academic uses his blog to market his ideas and to "amplify" his new academic results."

Not interested. My blog is for me, a place where I discuss all manner of things relevant to me (not just economics). It's my journal, and I do it anonymously. I feel it's the only "safe" way to express my opinions as I wish to. I would never attach my professional reputation to my blog. Of course, I have a lot of hobbies I'd rather be doing as well. Not "cooking and rearing children" as the blogger so annoying puts it, but I run, read, garden, and do volunteer work.

"Is blogging really a valuable pastime?"

It depends on one's utility function, I suppose. Mine says, "Eh, not so much as all the outdoorsy things I like to do."


I was just asking myself this question.

My guess is they do not want to risk having their words used against them. I believe it is still very much a man's world. Even if they speak out in other places, there is something more weighty about writing and thinking about what you are saying before you publish verses conversational talking or interviews.

I wish they would blog. It would be a welcomed addition for sure.


Maybe the authors of this website are well-placed to answer part of this question. If you take a look at the list of contributors to freakonomics you'll find 0 female bloggers. Why is this? I suppose (hope!) this is not intentional. What arguments do female economists contacted by Freakonomics use to decline to contribute to this blog? Or does it work the other way? Are there just more (only) male bloggers who contact Freakonomics to become a contributor? Looking at the structures and procedures of particular cases (like this website or like some of the replies found here already) might give an insight in this question.

Stephanie Medley-Rath

Blogging is a snapshot of our society. I am blogging about my dissertation in sociology. I am attempting a bit of cross-over appeal as my topic does have a wider market beyond just academics. I teach at a community college, however, and have no expectations placed on me to publish anywhere or publish anything. I have the freedom to publish my dissertation how I see fit. I would not have time to learn how to blog, let alone actually publish on this platform.
I am also trying to have a blog that is at least self-supporting (ideally, it will be profitable at some point). Along the way to learn how to blog, I have found the bulk of the blogs about "how to make money blogging (and in general)" are written by men. The bulk of the podcasts on this subject are men. I'm not sure if men are found to be more of an "expert" on these subjects or if it is just few women are producing this type of content. I have observed that there seem to be more women bloggers who make a point to not commercialize their blog. There is only one man blogger (leo babauta) who has eliminated advertising from his blog (he has books, speaking engagements, and other ways of making money from his blog) and made this point.
Blogging is gendered. The topics people blog about are gendered. Most of the popular personal finance blogs are written by men. Most of the blogs about scrapbooking (my topic) are written by women. The reasons men and women blog are different. How men and women blog are different. If I hadn't already completed my dissertation, I might just study this topic.
I'm not sure if danah boyd (http://www.danah.org/) has written specifically on this topic, but I would check out her work. At the very least, she can probably give you a better answer than I can.



Its women-doing-stand-up all over again

crunchy frog

I think this is related to a discussion that's been taking place on the Jezebel blog, about the dearth of women writers in major magazines. Jonathan Chait, Senior Editor at The New Republic responded with a well-thought-out, if anecdotal response. In his experience, women write, and write well, but don't pursue posts in opinion writing at the same rate as men. I think blogging is akin to that.

Andreas Moser

Another example that shows females' different priorities, which is also one explanation for the gender pay gap: http://andreasmoser.wordpress.com/2011/02/19/gender-pay-gap/


Perhaps men simply like to march around trumpeting things to draw attention to themselves more.

The majority of bloggers are writing rubbish. The notion that it is valuable is extremely subjective, and only in the rarer cases is genuinely useful information revealed.

Self-publication (by which I mean blogs, twitter, etc) is really a fashion that will to some extent subside. Instead of a simple "I publish because I can", people will eventually start to ask why they're doing it.

Why am I writing this comment? Heck knows.