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Is it a Man’s [PR Blogging] World?

June 4, 2009

I was talking with my favorite PR professor a couple of days ago about women PR pros and blogging.  She asked me if I thought that more men than women blogged in general, and then we made it more specific – in the PR field.

busy_woman21So, I went to one of my favorite tools: Google Reader. And lo and behold, out of 30+ blogs, I only follow 8 that are women driven. So, this got me thinking: in a field dominated by women, is it truly a man’s [PR blogging] world? And if so, why is that? It could just be that I haven’t broadened my scope enough to include every blog out there.

This is really a topic that confuses me – so I’d like to open it up to you as readers. Why do you think there are less women PR bloggers than men in the field?

I don’t want to hear the lame reasoning that business is still a man’s gig. That’s BS. Now, I’m not one of those bra-burning feminists, but I do have a fesity independence that proves women are just as capable – as well as many of my role models/mentors.

My friend Jen Wilbur made a good point yesterday – many women in real life have a hard time promoting themselves because they are more cautious, afraid to receive criticism, etc. Men don’t really care what others think about them. So are there many women bloggers out there who write just to write, not worrying if no one hears them? Men and women are different, I know. Is it priorities? The way they are portrayed? What causes a woman not to be out there with her blogging?

I’ve met some incredible women professionals in my day – those that motivate, innovate and push their efforts past 100 percent. Is it a work/balance thing? Many working professionals also have families, and they juggle at least 10+ things at a time. I truly think that at times, women are more busy than men. In my 10+ years of doing volunteer work for various charities, it’s more women driven. (Excluding Habitat for Humanity, where I was asked to paint because I was a girl. Really?)

My thoughts on what it COULD be:

1. Work/Life Balance
2. Fear of Rejection/Intimidation
3. Time Constraints

What do you think?

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. June 4, 2009 12:54 pm

    I think you may have hit it with the balance/time commitment thing. I’m sure it’s one of many reasons, but probably a major one. Many women in PR have busy days at work and then go home to a house, kids, community or volunteer work that takes up proportionally more of their time than men’s time. Sometimes blogging just doesn’t fit in to the schedule. When I think about the women PR bloggers I do follow, I don’t think many (any?) of them have kids. I know if I had kids it would be much, much harder for me to maintain my blog (as it is right now, I can barely remember to do laundry once a week!).

    I’d also be interested in if/how the gender stereotypes tradionally assigned to men and women play into this. The drumbeat we always hear is that women nuture and collaborate and men are the dominating, chest-beating, listen-to-me types. Sometimes it’s true; sometimes not. But blogging can certainly be more of a self-promotional activity, and perhaps more men in PR are comfortable with that than women.

    One interesting thing I’ve noticed is that, based on my Google Reader, there are many women who are contributors to group PR/communications blog versus having their own blog. Some of this might be the time balance thing – spreading the blogging workload among several people can make it easier. And some if it may be that group blogging fits the collaboration instinct that (we’ve been told) more women than men seem to possess.

    Excellent topic, and it would be great to see some more academic research on gender differences in PR, blogging and social media.

    @amymengel

  2. Jason Keith permalink
    June 4, 2009 1:10 pm

    I’m with Amy in that I think it mostly boils down to a work/life balance. I can speak from the male point of view at least. I have been meaning and wanting (as you know) to start up my own blog, and frankly I just don’t have enough time. I can barely keep up with the ones that I’m reading now, and only have time to post comments to the ones that I feel strongly about. I’m sure that many professional women feel the same way.

    In the end I think that it’s defined by how passionate anyone, male or female, is to be heard and engage. I guess it could be the fear of rejection and things like that, but why wouldn’t that be the case with men as well? As much as we men put on a good show, we care as much about being taken seriously than women, so the fear of rejection is always there regardless of gender.

    You also prodded me to do a quick scan of the PR blogs that I follow, and lo and behold, 8 of my 21 are hosted by women. Hopefully there are more and more women (and men) who get out there and engage, because at the heart of it, PR isn’t a gender specific business. It all comes down to who communicates, innovates, and executes the best. All points of view are valuable ones, so I hope that the reason why there (might be) more male driven blogs is a simple matter of timing/time.

    I hope, at least.

  3. themissinformation permalink
    June 4, 2009 1:11 pm

    I think I can be a case study on this one. My husband @vedo and I are both PR bloggers. He is much more active on his blog than I am. I do think that it is a time issue. I don’t want to make it seem at all that @vedo is any less involved in our kids lives than I am. That is not at all true. He is an amazing dad who is incredibly involved in our children’s lives.

    However, he is willing to stay up until 1 a.m writing a blog post after the kids are in bed.

    That is the difference. Once I get home from work, where I have been on a computer all day, I don’t want to jump right back on a computer. After we have dinner, play with the kids, and get the house in some kind of order, I’m ready to read a little and go to bed myself.

    Being a full time working mom drains you. You feel like you are being pulled in a lot of directions and maintaining my blog is one more thing.

    I love doing it, I just don’t get to it as much as I would like to. On my list of priorities, unfortunately, my blog isn’t at the top.

    @kescovedo

  4. June 4, 2009 2:15 pm

    I certainly HOPE it has more to do with time than with the question I posed yesterday. At least that’s my excuse, and I’m stickin’ to it.

    If I had kids, I doubt I’d even find time to edit and post pictures of dogs at the beach. And that’s almost mindless.

  5. June 4, 2009 2:17 pm

    Right on with the point of work/life balance…and it doesn’t always boils down to who has kids and who does not. Another telling sign is posting times. Look at what time of day people post their thoughts across any platform.

    The divide of men versus women-driven blogs still exist but the gap is closing…trust me, four years ago, the gap was as wide as the Grand Canyon!

  6. June 4, 2009 2:57 pm

    I think all of the points previous posters have brought up are spot on. I would only add, that the flexibility of your work/office situation may also contribute. I wonder if the men happen to be in situations where blogging is considered part of their work load, and [potential] female bloggers don’t have that time built into their day.

    Because I’m with @kescovedo, I don’t want to stay up until the wee hours blogging, I want to go to bed 🙂

    Great post, and thought-provoking points!

    Sherry

  7. June 4, 2009 3:27 pm

    I’ve been looking forward to this post since the conversation we had last week. It’s great to see the discussion furthered here. I’m with the others that it’s primarily a work/personal life balance but think we can toss in a little apprehension and a touch of wanting to be all things for everyone. I know I’m one of those who hasn’t fully committed yet — I’m with you Jen — because I’m afraid I don’t have the time I need to be a regular contributor. Will I really have the time…after taking care of two kids and a husband, the house, serving on numerous volunteer boards, and — oh yeah — the job. I don’t think men go through this thought process; they just “do” and assume it will work out.

  8. June 4, 2009 4:10 pm

    I’ve noticed this as well. In my opinion it’s a bunch of b.s. that there are not more women PR bloggers. Some of the best posts I read every day are from people like you Lauren, Amy, Beth Harte, and Valeria Maltoni. I’m going to be launching another female PR/marketing blogger this coming Monday. Trust me…it will be a good voice to add to this dynamic.

  9. June 4, 2009 4:19 pm

    Wow–interesting discussion here. Obviously, many factors are at play here, but I think it’s really all about priorities. I can only speak about my experience, but for me, blogging is a big priority for many different reasons. Does that mean I don’t love my two kids and wife any less? Of course not. I’ve just made it a commitment and I’m sticking to it. Sometimes, that’s means wrapping up a blog post over the lunch hour. Other times, it means starting a post at midnight after the wife and kids are in bed. Again, I made a commitment. You learn that quite quickly when you start blogging.

    I think that commitment can be a little tougher for women for many of the reasons other commenters have mentioned. Family, job, energy. They all play into it. And let’s be honest–blogging is hard work. Coming up with new post ideas, commenting on your favorite blogs, writing the posts. It takes a lot of energy. I just think women (not generalizing, but anecdotally) expend much more energy in other areas of their lives, which leaves little time for blogging.

    What’s odd is we all know the PR industry is dominated by women. I’ve been the only male on my team in my last three jobs. So, the numbers are stacked against us males tremendously. Yet, you’re right, men make up a much larger percentage of PR bloggers.

    Luckily, we have wonderfully smart women who continue to blaze the trail and demonstrate to others that you can do it. You can balance it. It’s just a lot of work. Beth Harte, Lauren Vargas, Jen Wilbur (she blogs, just not about PR), Kellye Crane come to mind (and obviously, you LAF).

    @arikhanson

  10. June 4, 2009 6:31 pm

    It’s kinda hard to give my two cents on this topic, since I’m a male PR pro; HOWEVER, I will say that, based on my observations, the work/life balance thing is a BIG issue for just about all ofthe women professionals (be it in PR or any other industry) that I know.

    Men have the better end of the deal when it comes to this. If they focus on their careers in threir 20s, they can still sucessfully (for the most part) START raising a family in their 30s and 40s.

    With ladies, it’s entirely different. They have soo many things to consider in their 20s – BIG decisions have to be made – especially b/c of their own respective biological clocks. Not everyone is built the same way and you must sondier things like…
    * you careers
    * how you want your family to look like
    ~ 1 child vs. 2 (or 4)
    * relationships

    So, taking the consideration to blog
    (b/c of the time/energy constraints) must be weighed out.

    Alot to take in, in my opinion.

  11. June 4, 2009 6:49 pm

    The Harvard Business Review released a study covering gender and Twitter usage yesterday. They also discussed volume and other factors, which, as a PR pro, I found very interested and useful. Link to the article and discussion here: http://thebuzzbymikeschaffer.wordpress.com/2009/06/04/pr-buzz-6409-nobodys-tweeting/

  12. June 4, 2009 9:04 pm

    Does the newly released HBS research on the way men/women use Twitter relate to this discussion in any way? (as in considering blog and Twitter as both forms of social media). A NYT Economix blog discussion on this topic is interesting: http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/03/twitter-trends-why-do-men-follow-men/?scp=1&sq=%22twitter%22&st=cse

    If you take it back to the ways men and women tend to communicate (as per Deborah Tannen, in her book, You Just Don’t Understand) – men enter into a communication via positioning/status while women enter into such via common ground looking to make longer term connections. Numbers of followers and numbers of posts and the competitive factor (beating someone else to writing about something) may be part of it more for the “typical” male (whomever that may be). Women may be inclined to follow fewer via Twitter, and write fewer posts, with more connecting of thoughts/people/resources within – so it takes longer to write.

    As I said in my post on this Twitter gender topic (http://learnedonwomen.com/2009/06/gender-stereotyped-twitter-behavior/) , if you are a male or female in the marketing/biz space and you are involved in social media – your behavior (no matter your gender) will probably tend to be “more followers, more posts, more tweets!” Very interesting discussion here. I think I’ll tweet it. (I’m in marketing…)

  13. June 5, 2009 3:14 am

    I have to agree that the career/house/kids thing makes it tough to blog. I’m working at home now, which is always tough. Just because I’m here, family members think I’m here for them – even when I’m not. That said, I just added a blog to my web site, and I’m going to try and keep it up.

    Twitter is easy – 140 characters and you’re done. Even if you do it 8 times a day, you won’t have to sit down and think about it like you do when writing a blog.

    When I work on the blog, I try to blend what interests me with what I think people will want to read. By the time I get around to it – usually after 11 at night – my brain is not at its best. But I’m determined to work at it.

  14. lolakwrites permalink
    June 5, 2009 2:11 pm

    Love the post, LAF. Can’t wait to discuss this in person!

    Of the three PR/marketing blogs I follow, two are women; I sense I’m going to be in the minority for what I’m about to write.

    I do not have a family or significant other, so balancing a home life isn’t what’s keeping me from blogging about PR. And it’s not that I don’t love/live/breathe my career. I think, for me, the number 1 reason I do not blog regarding my chosen (or did it choose me? : ) profession is that I work for an agency; I want people to pay me/us for my thoughts, ideas, strategies, etc. no matter how theoretical or concrete they may be. Instead, I blog to work on my creative writing — I have two private blogs and one public— which I enjoy for personal catharsis and because that practice, in the end, benefits my clients.

    So, the moral of my comment: I’m selling the cow, so I don’t give away the milk for free.

    @LolaKwrites

  15. June 5, 2009 7:39 pm

    Lauren – this is an interesting post and observation, especially considering the PR industry is so heavily female. I think traditionally men are always viewed as greater authority figures, which may have something to do with it. Regarding work/life balance, I think even for PR pros who don’t have kids like me, the balance between work and outside activities prompts us to put things like blogs on the back burner. I had a hard time justifying the time. But I’m trying to change my tune and will kick off my own blog this month. Hoping I can keep it up!

  16. June 5, 2009 7:58 pm

    This reminds me of the PR guys I went to college with. They used to call themselves the “token PR males.”

    Oddly enough, as you pointed out, unless it’s fashion, beauty or something similar, I find a lot of blogs in the communications industry — PR and alike, are run by males.

    To say that men dominate the internet, I wouldn’t. To say the circumstances and ‘life’ dictate what we see on the net, I would.

    But that’s the age old battle of the sexes question, isn’t it?

    Great post, thanks for sharing!

    Best wishes,

    Sasha
    @SashaHalima

    P.S.,
    Congrats on winning Best Up & Coming Blog 🙂

  17. June 5, 2009 8:03 pm

    You know. That’s a great question. I bet you didn’t know men and women use the Internet differently. According to a Pew study, men are more about finding information and women are more inclined to build relationship on the Internet. They’re more social, I should say. So another interesting question is to look at the frequency of women commenting in the blogosphere compared to men’s commenting activity.

    Anyway, to go off that research, it would make sense men are blogging more becuase they view the process as an information share, and probably visit other blogs for the same purpose.

    Whereas woman may be more inclined to comment more because that has a built-in relational quality to it.

    Of course, that just some food for thought.

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