February 25, 2011

Becoming More Accessible to Atheist Women

atheistIn one sense, atheism is about as gender-neutral as it gets. Lacking god belief is something that can and does apply to women and men alike. Organized atheism and atheist activism, on the other hand, sometimes seem to be more attractive to men than women.

Daylight Atheism recently conducted a brief reader poll and learned that roughly 60% of those who voted in it were men. I found his discussion about what this may mean an interesting one, mostly because one of the four possible explanations he considered was something I have been thinking about for some time.
Hypothesis #4. Something about the subject matter or content of this site, in general, appeals to men more than to women, or makes women feel as if they're less welcome than men.
I have wondered about the extent to which this may be true at Atheist Revolution and what, if anything, I might be able to do about it. While I am not overly concerned that I - or other atheists bloggers - achieve a 50-50 balance in the gender of our readers, I would hate to think that I am alienating women.

Let's get one thing out of the way early in this discussion. Some male atheist bloggers, including myself, have written some stupid things that probably have made some women wonder what they are doing on our blogs. Here is an example of what I'm talking about. The title of that post alone was probably enough to lead many women to wonder what the hell was wrong with me, and I can't say I blame them one bit. Some of us have also written posts that we thought would be empowering but that may have done little more than feed stereotypes (see this example - I know what I was trying to say, but really didn't say it all that well).

Aside from these screw-ups which seemed like good ideas at the time but less so with the benefit of hindsight, there is another important question:
What have male atheist bloggers done to reach out to women?
Refraining from making asses of ourselves would be nice, but it isn't going to be sufficient. What are we doing to make our blogs more hospitable to women? For most of us, the answer is probably not much. In fact, I suspect this is something to which most of us haven't devoted much thought. I'm certainly guilty.

I have a few ideas about how we men might be able to make our atheist blogs a bit more accessible to women. However, it occurs to me that the place to start is for me to shut up and ask the women who visit Atheist Revolution. So, what do you think? What could I do to improve your experience here and to help the blog be more accessible to women?

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