Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Why isn't there a market for feminism?

Now that the death sentence of our show has been temporarily reprieved, we have been thinking and talking a lot about what we want to do with it. Especially, we're talking about what we can do and want to do to boost our listenership, since management's main objection to the show is that, as they put it, "no one listens to it."

Of course, one question that springs to mind is how do they know who is listening and who isn't? The answer seems to be primarily from hits on the website, and that in itself might skew the results. According to a 2005 study by the Pew Research Center, men are faster to adopt new internet technologies, though women in most age groups spend more time online. In the 2005 study, women made up only 22% of those who downloaded podcasts, which was a very new technology at that time. Women seem to have made up a lot of ground over the last few years, and at least one study has women making up a majority of online listeners to public radio, but if the people I know are any indication – and they are at least a reasonable indicator of who might be interested in the issues that I cover – women are less likely to be in jobs that enable them to listen to the radio all day online. Geeks (otherwise known as IT professionals), for instance, are certainly listening to more internet radio during the day than schoolteachers or social workers. At my job eight of nine staff in IT are men, and the woman is the trainer. I decided that making a generalization based on nine people in one office might be considered a little unscientific, even for me, so I went online to see if my impressions were accurate. The National Center for Women in Information Technology reported that as of March 2008, women accounted for only 27 percent of the U.S. IT workforce, while making up over half of all professionals. In fact, according to the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) Taskforce on Workforce and Education's 2003 study, the gender gap in computer professions is widening, while other gaps are shrinking. "In 1984, 35.8% of all computer science degrees were awarded to women, but only 28.4% in 1996. Looking earlier in the pipeline, the College Board reports that only 17% of those taking the Advanced Placement test for Computer Science were female." (http://itmanagement.earthweb.com/career/article.php/1564501)

By contrast, 98% of kindergarden and preschool teachers, 79% of elementary and middle school teachers, and 83% of social workers are women.

Okay, so those are some interesting facts to mull over, and in fact maybe do some programming about, assuming we have a program. But in the long run, they are neither here nor there, because if people aren't going to listen to us, even I have to admit that maybe we shouldn't be on the air. After all, we're not doing all this work just to amuse ourselves. If no one wants to hear what we have to say, no matter how brilliant it is, we might as well save ourselves the trouble and do something else.

So I go back to the question, why aren't people listening to us? And more importantly, read the rest on my blog.

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