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New York Times & Women in Online Politics

Yesterday, New York Times reporter, Katharine (Kit) Seeyle, published an inquiry on their blog, “The Caucus”, asking readers to respond to “why more men seemed to be involved in politics online than women… if you agreed with that and… why or why not.” The discussion is still going strong in the comments there, and today Seeyle published her artilce, “Women, Politics and the Internet“, on the New York Times site. (Note: I was quoted – minus my last name and without much context, but it’s in there.)

Morra Aarons of BlogHer and Women and Work, was interviewed by Seeyle and followed up quickly with a post asking for more women to participate in the discussion yesterday afternoon before the deadline of the article today. Following her lead and looking at the post on the New York Times blog, I noticed a lot of women frustrated about the apparent lack of attention paid to women in politics online, and many people addressing the topic of blogs and how the discussion often turns derogatory.

One of the commenters, “woman on the inside,” (comment #34 and accidentally republished in #41) wrote about how the men tend to pat each other on the backs and help each other out more and tend to be louder and more brash. She says that there are many women working in online politics, but they’re not getting on “Meet the Press.” This goes into another issue that Shesource.org, a partner to The White House Project and VoteRunLead.org is trying to address – getting more media attention to women whiich, I think is at the heart of this matter. I’d like to hear what Women in Media and News thinks about this topic.

I noticed this phenomenon in the Mother Jones article series on online politics a few months back and wrote about it here. Morra and Esther Dyson were two out of like 4 women interviewed vs. approx. 20 men for that series. The editor wrote back that she reached out to Arianna Huffington and looked for more. In her defense, it’s not like there’s a list out there of who all is involved in this field.

“woman on the inside” (I think I know who you are, but I won’t out you) also uses the example of Karina Newton from Speaker Pelosi’s office, and she mentions Zephyr Teachout (from the Dean campaign) and Amanda Michel among others. I’ll name a few more names of women who are involved in the presidential campaigns this time around – Tracy Russo and Amy Rubin are working for John Edwards and Crystal Patterson blogs for Hillary Clinton. Mindy Finn (just to prove we’re not all Democrats) is Mitt Romney’s Director of eStrategy (and formerly of the RNC).

More names: Laura Quinn, Liza Sabater, Jane Hamsher, Taylor Marsh, Chellie Pingree, Susan Crawford, Becky Donatelli, Mary Katherine Ham, Heather Mansfield, Dahlia Lithwick, Chris Nolan, Maryscott O’Connor, Jeralyn Mertitt, Allison Hayward, Mary Hodder, Kathy Mitchell, Lorelei Kelly, Heather Holdridge, Jeanne Jackson, Michelle Malkin, Kate Kaye, Allison Fine, Amanda Marcotte, Barbara O’Brien. These women play major roles in political blogs and policy nonprofits. And of course we can’t forget the BlogHer founders Lisa Stone, Elisa Camahort and Jory Des Jardins or even Elizabeth Edwards who blogs frequently and likes to meet with bloggers. What about some of the companies that work on the back-end? There are a few that are women-owned and run like ROI Solutions, run by Gina Vanderloop or Orchid Suites‘ Tanya Renne. So while this is not even a remotely comprehensive and I don’t have everyone’s current affiliations, my point here is to show that there are not only many capable women working in online politics, but there are many capable women leaders working in online politics.

In my post about an event I attended a couple of weeks ago, two of the speakers were women (out of 6, that’s progress) – Michelle Kraus and Perla Ni. And what about the mommybloggers? Elisa Batista of MotherTalkers, Stefania Pomponi-Butler (who wears many hats like me but also blogs about politics), and Grace Davis all blog actively about political issues. Ann Crady founded Maya’s Mom as a social network or parents, but it’s not like parents just talk about parenting. And of course Joan Blades can’t be missed – she founded MoveOn and MomsRising. I’m not even going into the long long list of women involved in technology policy list including a majority who run the Electronic Frontier Foundation. (Bet you didn’t realize that! Much credit for this should go to Shari Steele.) Also women play major roles in ACM, EPIC, Creative Commons and CPSR, all leading technology policy advocacy groups I’ve worked with. Well-known names in that space include Annalee Newitz (see my blogroll).

Anyway, back to the New York Times. Emily McKhann of BlogHer was also interviewed and quoted in the article, and Erin Kotecki Vest of BlogHer and Queen of Spain got in on the comments, just after mine. (Mine is #48; Erin’s is #49.) (Emily and Cooper Munroe are spearheading BlogHers Act.) I then tipped-off the Silicon Valley Moms about the discussion and Beth Blecherman and Glennia Campbell submitted comments #59 and #63 respectively. Rather than reprinting my long quote here, I’ll just note that my main points were not about how men and women communicate differently (because I really don’t know much about that – I am both a problem-solver and a consensus-builder, unlike what I said about the generalizations I’ve read) but I do want to point out the variety of ways women are involved in politics, not just via blogs. I think that’s a huge point that may not have had enough emphasis in the article. Many women are involved and just because we’re not out there spilling our guts in the blogosphere, that doesn’t mean we aren’t playing a dynamic, important role.


  1. >Let’s not overemphasize the importance of blogs in deciding the political process. Sarah you hit the nail on the head: blogs are indicative of a larger pattern of women’s visibility, from Meet the Press to the Board Room to the Dean’s office. As Eleanor Holmes Norton says, “You can’t be it if you can’t see it.”