Sisters: The Path to Punditry Isn't Paved With Baby Powder

In what's quickly becoming a hot-button article, the New York Times has proclaimed that female bloggers face a glass ceiling. Why is it so controversial?

Because the article wasn't in the Tech section, like a previous Times article about death by blogging, or even in the business section, where the paper previously ran an article on blog marketing. It was in the Fashion and Style section -- proof, some bloggers claim, that the story itself is patently dismissive and patronizing. Just another example, some claim, of gender bias in the coverage of female bloggers.

They're quick to point out, too, that women outnumber men online and control the majority of consumer spending decisions. So why are they being discriminated against? Why aren't they linked more often by other bloggers, called more often by mainstream media for their opinions, sponsored more often by high-dollar advertisers?

It's discrimination, some say. But maybe there's more to the story.

Last week, the annual BlogHer conference took over San Francisco's Westin St. Francis Hotel, drawing in nearly 3,000 women. While plenty of (female) bloggers have taken umbrage at the NY Times' description of the event as "a corporate-sponsored Oprah-inflected version of a '60s consciousness-raising group," perhaps that description is not entirely inaccurate. Back when the founders of BlogHer first sat in a coffee shop dreaming up the notion of a female-oriented conference, they asked themselves:

"What do women want? Technology. Our work with bloggers indicates that blogging is the gateway drug of technology to many new users. It is also a terrific source of emancipation from mainstream media coverage of the field for established female developers, tech writers, engineers, and tech entrepreneurs."

Yet a glance at the BlogHer 2008s agenda shows a conference light on technology and heavy on the "girl stuff." Granted, there were hard-hitting topics on the agenda, things like how to effectively use social media and strategies for blogging about race and gender without inciting death threats. But for every tech-related topic there were two focusing on "Mommy Blogging": whether it's a radical act and how to do it while respecting your children's privacy.