james burton (jhburton@FACSTAFF.WISC.EDU)
Thu, 16 Mar 1995 16:26:07 -0600

Leslie ReganShade's comments about Herring's study of gender and electronic
lists are appropriate here.

(excerpt fromShade's "Gender Issues and Computing":

Susan Herring at the University of Texas at Arlington analyzed
male and female participation in two academic electronic lists,
Linguist (devoted to the discussion of linguistics-related issues)
and Megabyte University (MBU) (devoted to the discussion of
computers and writing). She concluded that "male and female
academic professionals do not participate equally in academic
CMC (computer-mediated-communication). Rather, a small male
minority dominates the discourse both
in terms of amount of talk, and rhetorically, through self-
promotional and adversarial strategies. Moreover, when women
do attempt to participate on a more equal basis, they risk being
actively censored by the reactions of men who either ignore
them or attempt to delegitimize their contributions. Because of
social conditioning that makes women uncomfortable with
direct conflict, women tend to be more intimidated by these
practices and to avoid participating as a result....rather than being
democratic, academic CMC is power-based and hierarchical. This
state of affairs cannot however be attributed to the influence of
computer communication technology; rather, it continues pre-
existing patterns of hierarchy and male dominance in academia
more generally, and in society as a whole" [Herring]

I noticed (a bit to my surprise from 'listening' to ANTHRO-L) that about
40% of ANTHRO-L subscribers are women.
But, note from Danny Yee's tabulations, ten men are responsible for a
quarter of all posts on ANTHRO-L. Only three of the twenty most active
anthro-l posters are women, comprising 3% of the messages, while the
remaining 17 males are responsible for about a third of all posts.
It also gets interesting to look at gender and ignition points.

James Burton
Department of Anthropology (608) 262-4505
University of Wisconsin fax: (609) 265-4216
Madison WI 53706