July 19, 2009

Where are the Atheist Women?

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 of the community 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. Why? Diversity is valuable.

I'm not sure whether women are underrepresented among atheists in general, but they might still be underrepresented among atheist activists and in what we might call the atheist movement. If I'm right, then the challenge for male atheists who would prefer a more diverse community is figuring out how they might make activist-oriented settings more appealing to women.