On June 18, Foreign Policy Magazine (to which I subscribe) issued its annual list of the ‘Top 100 Twitterati‘. The list was good, if predictable, certainly a helpful way for foreign policy wonks new to Twitter to find some conversation partners.
What this year’s list was seriously lacking, however, was women. Though I did not check every gender-ambiguous Twitter handle, readers commented that there were somewhere between nine and fifteen–out of one hundred–women on the list, placing women between 10-15% of the total.
What bugs me most about FP’s gender bias is that it IS that. There are plenty of smart women who belong there.
— Jillian C. York (@jilliancyork) June 19, 2012
Lots of women simply weren’t having it: By Monday evening, there was conversation bubbling on Twitter as to why women had been so left out of the equation. Was it that FP’s editorial team is primarily male? While true, a glance at their own follows on Twitter demonstrates that their influencers are fairly well-rounded. More likely, the list was compiled relatively quickly and the first people that come to mind are men. How unfortunate, yet indicative of a problem that goes far beyond the editorial staff at Foreign Policy.
After a bit of back-and-forth on Twitter, I created a Google Doc and–along with @lisang, @katrinskaya, and about fifteen other women from all over the world–started creating a list of women, by women, and for everyone. Using the hashtag #FPwomeratti, we crowdsourced contributions. We also got the attention of several journalists: This morning I woke up to pieces from Mashable, RFERL, and others.
Maybe this is why people identify so strongly with Mad Men’s gender roles. Because not enough has changed, dammit! #FPwomeratti
— Lisa Goldman (@lisang) June 19, 2012
Our efforts quickly went viral and the doc–editable by anyone–was shared on Twitter. While the contributions kept pouring in (we stopped counting at 212 women!), Foreign Policy editor Blake Hounshell also took notice and invited us to submit a curated, refined version of our collaborative list. Lisa, Katrin and I banded together and came up with something we hope you’ll like; that list is now up on FP’s website (you can also view the list of 212 women here).
While I think our list is pretty great, it’s just a start. There are plenty of foreign policy-minded women to whom we lack access (because of language or other reasons), for one, but more importantly, I hope that our efforts will translate into an increased awareness next time around. Many thanks to FP for recognizing the need.