Friday, August 6, 2010

Gender disparity in atheist groups

I just saw the recent SMBC comic:

(Click to go to comic page)

Just replace "mathematics" with "nontheist student groups" - same problem: plenty of guys with maybe a few gals showing up to meetings, sometimes*. It's been discussed and analyzed in many nontheist campus orgs, including SURE. One of the problems is that, like in the comic, invariably the idea that we just need to make disbelief more girly is proposed: make some pink signs or something... organize an atheist knitting group.

The problem has been written about before, so I'm not providing much analysis or many solutions (mostly I'm just lazy), but I don't know if the problem is that there's the same kind of stigma of girls being atheists or in atheist groups as there is for girls being interested in math - it doesn't seem like it fits into the same category. I think it's just that there isn't as much interest in joining a group like ours.

Solutions? Something that comes to mind is that we should have more active/interactive outreach - not necessarily outreach designed specifically for the ladies, just going out on campus and doing more than tabling to get our name out. We need more visibility.

There are probably other actions we could take to try to attract women to the group... maybe as far as having a panel event in which female SURE members talk about being female atheists? I don't know. Things to ponder.

*Although there are actually a reasonable number of girls that show up to our meetings...


Anonymous said...

What I notice is that people who are more interested in math/or science are more likely to be atheist and generally more males are interested in the math and science area. I personally am a girl and I am definitely more of a science person.

Sam said...

Yeah, I think it's a related issue - if we can remove the stigma of math/science studies being male dominated, it would lead to more girls being drawn to those topics.

Although I've definitely been seeing far more girls both in SURE meetings and at my engineering courses in recent times.

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