Amanda Marcotte has a good piece that grew out of the Daily Show’s response to being accused of not hiring female creative talent. (Their reaction was, “But look at all the females we have working in production!”)
I especially liked this part:
You may feel recruiting is a different version of the sexist argument that women don’t do X because they’re not ambitious enough or don’t care or whatever. But in reality, recruiting can be super-effective, because it’s acknowledging that every step you took to get here mattered, and that women didn’t have that pathway available most of the time, so they need a different path.
A lot of women look at group X—atheist/skeptical leaders, comedy writers, major liberal bloggers—and think, “Man, I could totally do that job.” And they could! But they don’t apply, because there’s no application process. The men who do this usually stepped on the path years ago, and for various complex reasons, that path had a No Girls Allowed sign hanging over it back then. And every step the dudes took down that path, women had to go on another, often taking them further and further away from the men’s path. So by the time the sign is taken off the door, women don’t even know where to find the door. So you’re going to have to go find them and give them a ride.
This sucks, because who doesn’t hate giving rides? But the benefits are way worth it, because not only is male dominance bad for women, it’s really not so great for men, and not just because of the previous bullet point. Bringing women in doubles your talent pool, brings a new kind of energy and diversity, expands your reach. When women see other women doing these things, they start to think it’s possible for themselves—it only took a handful of women joining the ranks of the top bloggers, and the floodgates opened, for instance.
But to make it work, you have to get out of the urge to ghettoize, either by only looking for women that fit the standard male mode but just happen to have vaginas, or by only hiring women that only do girl things. Include women who may do things a little differently than your usual ways, and suddenly you’ll find the ranks of potential women to bring on board opens way up. For instance, once the big liberal blogs stopped seeing feminism as a scary topic to only touch on occasionally, they found that it was way, way, way easier to bring in women. By allowing more discussion of feminism, they found that they got what they wanted—women blogging about economics, foreign policy, electoral politics, etc. Meeting women where they’re at instead of shoving them in boxes will work for you and for them.
Well, okay, not so much the part about blogging. Because it was and remains the old boys network, and just because they let in a few token women with the requisite values doesn’t exactly translate to “diversity.” When was the last time you saw a female blogger on The Ed Show, or Countdown, or Rachel Maddow? ‘Cause I’m scratching my head and can’t think of one.
The upper echelons of blogging? It’s a club, and it’s not specifically white male: It’s rather specifically white privileged males: Guys who all know each other, write for the same publications, socialize, and most importantly, refer each other for opportunities.
Now, I’m not saying I don’t have some degree of access, because now I do. That million or so weekly readers over at C&L? That’s a nice pulpit to have. But John Amato is unusually sensitive to women, and is not typical.
I remember male bloggers earnestly explaining to me that if I wanted to be taken more seriously, I shouldn’t write about things like music, or my personal life. In fact, I remind myself of that every time I see Ezra Klein blogging in the Washington Post about cooking, or his favorite new restaurant, because Ezra once informed me I “needed to pay my dues” by blogging as long as he had – even though, as I pointed out to him, I’d actually been blogging a few years longer.
But hey, isn’t life funny? I have the audience I want, which is that of normal human beings, not policy wonks. So it all worked out.