July 19, 2009

Where are the Atheist Women?

Atheist Bus Campaign LaunchImage by Girl with a one-track mind via Flickr

Many atheist blogs periodically address the subject of atheist dating. Not surprisingly, atheists are interested in dating too. I have noticed that there seems to be a perception in the atheist community that there is a shortage of atheist women. Is the atheist movement really something of a "sausage fest," and if so, why? Perhaps the shortage of atheist women is only imagined. Another possibility is that it is highly context-dependent.

One thing we should understand about the atheist community is that only a tiny fraction those who belong to it approach their atheism with a sense of activism. Among this minority within a minority of atheist activists, I suspect that women are underrepresented. Could this be why so many male atheists lament the lack of atheist women? They are basing their calculations on the activist segment while ignoring the bigger picture.

If I am correct that women are underrepresented among atheist activists, then we might do well to ask why. Is there something about atheist activism, as it tends to be conceived, that is unappealing to many women? If so, is this something that could change? Independent of the dating topic, I think that atheist activism would benefit from the involvement of more women.

In the larger atheist community, I'm not so sure that women are underrepresented. If I'm right, then the challenge for male atheists seeking women would be to find them in a much wider range of settings than activist-oriented meetings.

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