Where are the women “Twittellectuals”

Why yes, I am making that word up. Oh woe is me, the heavy burden of marketing jargon on my shoulders. But bear with me, because I believe this is a question worth asking.

Jon Worth, one of the most prominent Eurobloggers (and a cool dude if you are looking to follow a European sociopolitical analyst on Twitter), asked the question this weekend: Public intellectuals on Twitter – where are the Brits (or even the Europeans)?

He uses the examples of Jeff Jarvis, Lawrence Lessig, Clay Shirky, Cory Doctorow, Daniel Pink and Richard Florida and then wonders:

Essentially my point is this: where are the UK and European public intellectuals either active in this space between the internet, politics and society? The only person getting close in Europe that I am aware of is Markus Beckedahl @Netzpolitik with 33000 followers and considerable interaction. In the UK @RichardDawkins has more than 100000 followers, but all the content there seems to be an auto retweet of work of his foundation – what an opportunity he is missing!

So naturally, I had to pose the counter question, where are the women equivalent, European or otherwise?

As this article in Jezebel points out, the dominant women voices on Twitter are right wing. First on the list is Jan Simpson, with her rabid anti choice and tea party agenda, followed by Tabitha Hale, a political activist and prominent blogger. Also another self declared Christian, using faith as ideology (as it is bound to happen in politics these days), so that takes both of them out of the “intellectual” race.

Then there is Jessica Smith, who is not exactly political, but follows social trends on line and I would say, as such, qualifies as a social analyst. Also, as Jon Worth points out, there is Esther Dyson, who, at 10k+ followers certainly qualifies for a top spot on this list.

Probably the only example of equal popularity, presence and frequency of posting worth mentioning is Xeni Jardin. Not surprisingly, pretty much like Cory Doctorow, another exponent of Boing Boing’s reach and influence.

Prospect Magazine, every year compiles a list of the Top 100 intellectuals (the last one is from 2008, as they devoted their 2009 issue specifically to the financial crisis). Leaving aside the validity of such list (really, Pope Benedict in 32nd position as a leading “intellectual”?!), notice how few women are featured. And moreover, notice how even fewer of them are public figures of say, Richard Dawkins’ popularity.

Twitter is not really a barometer of depth or intelligent discourse, however, it is a good measure of media presence. So, where are the women intellectuals? I am at a loss finding equal numbers of women as of men in this area. Moreover, I am not seeing European ones either. And the few female influential voices, seem to be working towards making it so that women loose rights and freedoms if they get away with their agenda.

Update: as thehighshelf rightly pointed out, Melissa Harris-Perry belongs at the top of this list, with 20k followers and a consistent Twitter presence.

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