It is clear to many members of the atheist internet blogosphere that there is a noticeable gender disparity among participants in atheist activities (fora, blogs, comments, readership) online.There are also indications that this discrepancy is continued offline as well, in self-identification on surveys and in participation in atheist community groups. There is a similar disproportion in popular published material and mainstream availability of women in outspoken positions. These areas, yet again, are dominated by men and the demographic is only slowly changing. This is not to say that women are not involved in high positions of leadership within the atheist community, nor that their input is disregarded. To say so would be farcial. Women like Margaret Downey, president of the Freethought Society, Lori Lipman Brown, the founding director of the SCA, Lyz Lidell in the SSA, Debbie Goddard representing both the CFI and African Americans for Humanism, Susan Jacoby repping CFI, and so many others speak to, write about, educate and organize atheists across North America. And there are many more across the world. There are numbers of female atheist bloggers, authors, and thinkers all with as much to say, if not more, than their male counterparts. Yet the truth remains that the population of today's New Atheism remains heavily skewed toward the male, many places in ratios hovering near 3:1.This topic has clearly been on the minds of many. Hemant Mehta (The Friendly Atheist), Jen McCreight (BlagHag), PZ Meyers (Pharyngula) and many others of note in the blogosphere have considered this issue in lengthy discussion. Much of this buzz was initiated by Carrie Iwan and Rebecca Watson of Skepchick when they podcasted about sexism and sexist remarks made at The Amaz!ng Meeting (TAM), a conference for skeptics hosted by the James Randi Educational Foundation, in 2009.I am currently doing research with a professor at my school on gender and atheism. For us, discussion is great. What would make that discussion even better would be to have empirical data to help support the integration of more women (especially women of color, former adherents to non-Abrahamic faiths, etc.) into the New Atheist movement. It is not enough to hope that time will even up the ratios, they must be actively addressed and we will all benefit. We have the potential to create a survey that can reach an international population of atheists online. Our question to you then becomes this: what questions need to be asked of a large, trans-national population in order to help us get at the root of this issue? What do women need from the New Atheist movement? What keeps women who don’t believe in deities from identifying as atheist? We have a decent idea of what female atheists now look like: they tend to be liberal, white, under 40, highly educated, from backgrounds of low religious orthodoxy. How do we provide welcoming environments for the women who may face different struggles it they came out as atheists? Many have noted that this issue is not only about being more inclusive to women, but also about being more inclusive to all diversity. New Atheism, at its heart, does not need exclusion or discrimination or hierarchy. It needs brothers, it needs sisters. It needs transgendereds and androgyne's. The long and short of it is that we need community.Now, how?
EDIT: this is in the works, again. Up above is about three or four editions behind.... whoops.