Last week, we posted some thoughts about the gender gap and reading. In the comments, a couple of readers mentioned an even wider such gap among book bloggers. The Ape had noticed this as well and decided to do a little barely-at-all scientific study to see what the numbers might be.
Our data set was registered members of the Book Blog Ning, of which there are currently more than 6000. Clearly, this was too many to handle, so instead we used the handy little “Random” sort option to give us a nominally unbiased sample size.
We then set out to gather data from 100 active book bloggers; the two requirements for “active book blogger” were that the blog had to be primarily, though not exclusively, about books and had to have been updated in the past month. If a blogger's gender wasn't readily identifiable, we didn’t count it among the 100 and moved on (this happened only twice).
While gender was our primary interest, we did a secondary look for what the Ape calls “social-book blogging activity.” This includes book-related memes, reading challenges, and intra-blog badges and affiliations. This was clearly a more subjective evaluation, but so be it.
Out of the 100 book blogs surveyed, 92 were run by women.
Of the 100 book blogs surveyed, 70 participated in social-book blogging activity. Of those 70, 66 were women.
The gender gap among the wider reading public is even more pronounced in the book blogosphere, where women apparently outnumber men somewhere in the 10-1 range. The difference in social book –blogging activity is extreme, somewhere in the 15-1 range.
If one organizes these three book-related activities (reading, book-blogging, and social book-blogging) according to social interaction, we can see that the more “social” the reading-related activity, the more pronounced the gender spread will be. Based on anecdotal evidence, gender differences in book clubs and groups would probably yield similar results.
So here’s the question that emerges: might gender differences in reading habits be caused by the different ways men and women socialize around books? Or is it the other way around?
If there were a direct correlation between social reading activity and baseline reading habits, then we would expect something less than the 10-1 spread in the gender of book bloggers. This suggests that the social role of reading might be a source of the reading gap itself; reading is more of social activity for women and it would make sense that this encourages more women to read.
What Else We’d Like to Know
How do men and women gather information about books? We’ve heard that a significant amount of book buying occurs because of a personal recommendation, so it stands to reason that if women are more social about books, then they are more likely to get these recommendations and turn them into sales/reads.
What is the gender spread in non-blogging social reading habits? (Book clubs, Good Reads, Library Thing, Amazon Reviewing)
What, if any, are the differences between what male book bloggers and what female book bloggers do?
The Ape is always appreciative of comments, but in this particular we’d especially like to hear your thoughts (fellow book bloggers, we’re looking at you).