Addressing the Imbalance | The Jackal

9 Sep 2011

Addressing the Imbalance

A month ago there was a little bit of media coverage concerning the wage difference between males and females in New Zealand. The impetus for that reporting was to highlight the defunct thought process of Alasdair Thompson who was dismissed from the EMA for his sexist remarks.

Although slowly declining, wage inequality is still a problem that disproportionately attributes wealth based on a male dominated hierarchical system.

But it’s not just wage disparity that’s the problem... The New Zealand blogosphere is an unequal realm where males outnumber females by around ten to one.

So what could be the cause? Is it indicative of our unequal society or does sexism have little effect in causing the online gender imbalance?

The blogosphere is much like a community in the real world, where shit happens. However in the real would there are rules and people there to enforce them. There are no such enforceable rules on the Internet. You cannot make a complaint to the BSA for instance because they have no legal mandate over blogs.

Sure, there are things in the real world that can be applied to try and deter Internet abuse and some websites have mechanism for dealing with it. However there are ways around the rules and the cost of taking any legal action is usually a deterring factor.

In light of this, it is helpful to have a Blogger's Code of Conduct which was a proposal by Tim O'Reilly for bloggers to enforce civility on their blogs by being civil themselves. It has been widely praised as well as deconstructed, but remains the closest thing to a rule of thumb that the Internet has.
  1. Take responsibility not just for your own words, but for the comments you allow on your blog.
  2. Label your tolerance level for abusive comments.
  3. Consider eliminating anonymous comments.
  4. Ignore the trolls.
  5. Take the conversation offline, and talk directly, or find an intermediary who can do so.
  6. If you know someone who is behaving badly, tell them so.
  7. Don't say anything online that you wouldn't say in person.
I must admit to breaking a few of these rules myself from time to time. In the future, I will try to abide by Tim O'Reilly's self imposed rules, even if others don't.