Bloggingheads went 100 percent XX-chromosome this week, and there were a lot of interesting discussions. Here are two very different writers, Elizabeth Gilbert and Susan Orlean, musing on the disadvantages and advantages of being a "woman writer."
I agree completely with what they're saying about women feeling–and actually being–responsible for a whole range of household chores and interpersonal relationships that take time away from writing. I've noticed myself that when I work from home, I can't help but make the day extra productive by also taking time to dust the furniture, wash a pile-up of dishes, or run to the market to pick up produce for dinner. Partly, it's that I can't focus on work if I'm in the midst of a domestic disaster zone.
On the upsides: In the kind of character-driven, long-form reporting Gilbert and Orlean are talking about, it does sometimes help to be female. Most people are less intimidated or threatened by strange women than they are by strange men. But in politics and policy journalism, there's a credibility challenge you have to face down as a young woman, in particular. I'm constantly aware that the pitch of my voice and my physical appearance can contribute to perceptions of me being less professional, experienced, or knowledgeable than I actually am.
One thing I love about the beats I cover most often–education and women's health–is that they are professions in which it's not unusual to see women in positions of power and influence. In fact, it's the norm.