I’ll be away from the end of July until mid October. So I won’t be doing any more blogging here or elsewhere.
Before I go I have to finish a massive project which I really can’t put off any longer. So, this is probably my last blog post here for some time. It’s been fun! Thank you for reading.
Now, before I go, various readers keep on pointing out to me that Auckland Council is currently consulting on an Energy and Climate Change Mitigation Discussion Document.
Obviously, you might want to submit on this just to stop massive shifts in global eco-systems which will impact our lives in ways we can’t even imagine (except we know they’ll almost all be bad) and wipe out a goodly proportion of the other species living on the planet as well.
But from a cycling perspective, this is alsoÂ a good opportunity to push for more investment in cycling as a way to reduce our emissions from the transport sector and dependence on imported oil.
Sadly right now the transport bit of the discussion document seems a bit heavy on the desire to introduce electric vehicles (unlikely to be a viable solution in the short-term or even by 2040) and a bit light on the need to increase use of active modes such as walking and cycling.
We need more women bloggers.
The second thing I wanted to say is that lately I’ve been reflecting on how radically unbalanced the political blogosphere is towards men.
If you look at the top NZ blogs that are listed on Open Parachute many of those in the top 20 are about politics, transport and science.
The Standard has a mixture of male and female commentators, although I must say that almost always when I go there it is to read a post written by men. Over at Public Address, 7 out of their 9 regular bloggers are male. Pundit has, in theory, gender balance but I see the last 11 blog posts were written by men.
There are great blogs written by women about politics and other things in NZ. Ideologically Impure and the Handmirror leap to mind. But judging by Open Parachute’s blog rankingsÂ they’re definitely in the minority.
In the transport sector, my perception is that things are almost worse. In fact, all the years I have read the (fabulous) Auckland Transport Blog I can’t recall seeing a single post by a woman. Perhaps they’ve had a guest post or two but certainly none of their regular bloggers are female.
This is also almost always my experience when I go to transport conferences. There are women in the room but we’re definitely a minority. For some reason in cycling these things are more balanced, but I have also noticed that almost all of those who comment on my blog (except for Unity herself) are male.
Apparently this is a difference between men and women that has been noted for a long time.Â This 1990s article cites research showingÂ that women are as likely to volunteer for political causes as men but they’re less likely to talk about politics to their friends or tell them how to vote.
So why does this matter? Well, perhaps it doesn’t really. But I think that blogs do have a limited amount of influence. Blogs such asÂ the Auckland Transport BlogÂ or Imperator Fish or Kiwiblog definitely do shape what gets reported in the media to a certain extent and thus public opinion. If womens’ voices are notÂ heard in the blogosphere they are missing out on the chance to exert influence on public discourse.
I know Unity will be soon be advertising for new bloggers for this site. So if you are a woman then I’d encourage you to give it a go.Â It’s not that hard and it can be lots of fun.
And have a good 3 months without me!
UPDATE: On re-reading this I realized it could be interpreted as if I am blaming women for not being more active in giving their opinions, online or elsewhere. I just wanted to make it clear that’s not the case. Being a blogger takes time and (if you are hosting your own site) money.
I suspect a lot of the reasons women don’t blog in NZ are to do with wider societal factors like the fact thatÂ we earn lessÂ on average, do more of the housework (which is probably harder to combine with blogging than sitting at a desk), and are far more likely to be single parents. We’ve also been socialized to think it’s not ok to speak out or give an opinion in group discussion, unless we modify it with endless qualifiers.Â
But if you do have the time and energy to try blogging I encourage you to give it a go. It mightÂ also be worth it for some of the groupÂ blogs I’ve mentioned in this post to ask themselves what they can do to get more female bloggers posting on their sites. Now that really is all from me until October!