Why blogging benefits from a woman’s touch

I don’t know about you, but I get a sense sometimes that the blogging technical world is dominated by men.

Perhaps it’s because they shout, or boast, the loudest, whereas women quietly get on with doing stuff that matters in the background.

Certainly I come across plenty of thoroughly confused newbie bloggers reeling from a bombardment of jargon-filled lessons, which makes them feel very stupid and worthless. This is a pity, because there are plenty of excellent potential bloggers out there who have been put off setting one up because it ‘seems so complicated’.

Frustration on both sides

Well, it is, if the words you only get to hear are technical jargon. I remember, a very long time ago now, I was battling to create my first WordPress.org blog and was trying to cope with FTP and MySQL databases. I went onto a blogging forum to ask for a solution. I was answered by, what seemed to me, an acne-ridden youth barely out of nappies who threw a volley of jargon at me, and got extremely exasperated when I said I didn’t understand what he was going on about.

It was the comment “If my grandmother can do this, so can you” that really rankled. I’m sure she could, especially if she wasn’t instructed by her grandson!

Not everybody understands ‘techie’

A friend of mine approached me to sort out a WordPress problem for her. I shrank inside when I found out that she couldn’t get into her website to edit it, as this was not going to be an easy one to sort out. I decided she ought to contact her hosting provider to find out what had happened by using their chat-back system.

Normally the people on these chat lines are very good (even if they are coping with more than one customer at a time), but this particular one was extremely technical and unsympathetic. It didn’t help to fling a load of jargon at my friend, who was almost in tears because she didn’t understand anything he said. Luckily I was there to interpret his explanation into ordinary, everyday language she could relate to. Eventually I managed to make him understand what the situation was, and we came to a satisfactory conclusion.

More ‘happiness engineers’ are women

I think I read somewhere that a higher proportion of WordPress’s ‘happiness engineers’, the volunteers that help maintain and improve WordPress, are women. This actually doesn’t surprise me. I’ve often felt that the way WordPress has been constructed and presented is in keeping with how a woman thinks: clear, unfussy, obvious buttons, no confusing icons, intuitive procedures and a minimum of jargon.

I recently had to battle with a Drupal website and it had me tearing my hair out, it was so difficult to interpret what to do next. Nothing was obvious, I had to mouse of the tiny icons to work out what they did, and the process navigation was like going through a maze. It was so undoubtedly ‘male’ in its construction, build like a spread-sheet flow-chart that any stuffy grey-suited accountant would relish stuck in his dusty office without the window open on a lovely Spring day!

Are women better at explaining?

Careful now, I’m sure there are lots of men out there who are excellent at explaining stuff, but probably to other men. It’s a matter of like to like, understanding how the other ticks and adapting the language and circumstances in a way the other can understand. This isn’t a situation of ‘dumbing down’ the teaching, but merely of finding an alternative method. It also requires making the effort to think like the other, simplify the explanation into a concept that is immediately comprehended.

Sometimes it’s as simple as using another word. ‘Anchor text’ actually means ‘link’, which I explain as “a door from one website to another, which allow readers and search engines to pass through to read the content on the other side”. That may seem very simplistic to you, but to a non-technical person it gives them a chance to work out how these ‘links’ are used within the web, as not always the concept of ‘connecting to other stuff’ is immediately understood. Even the icon showing a link within a chain coupling doesn’t always resonate with the function it is supposed to represent.

Patience is a virtue

And that is what women have. We naturally have the nurture instinct, even non-maternal biddies like me, where we slow down and take our time to fit in with the other and slot into their thought-patterns. I’m constantly learning how to interpret blogging in ways that anyone can understand, especially since I’m specialising in non-techies over the age of 45 (those that didn’t grow up with computers, and are still finding this ‘new fangled technology’ a bit hard to fathom), who need to have that extra time and explanation in order to ‘get it’.

Recently during a Twitter conversation I was told that blogging was suitable for people from 6 to 60. Why stop at 60? I instructed a 69-year old last week who, once she got the main concept, was rattling along nicely (in her own way) and I knew that she would write the most fascinating blog posts. All she needed was the chance to have blogging explained to her in her own terms, using a system that was easy to understand (WordPress.com, of course), with the extra time and patience she deserved.

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Alice Elliott

Alice Elliott writes her award winning Fairy Blog Mother blog for beginner and post-beginner bloggers to “explain things really simply” about blogging and WordPress. If you want easy to understand training using ordinary, everyday words and simple purple infographics, read her blog to find out more!

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  1. says

    Hey Alice
    Challenging post.
    As someone who works in IT (web development) it is interesting to see the perspective of someone who does not. I feel however, that you are in many ways confusing the inner-world filled with jargon, with a debate about sexes. Most IT people are men. Most people deep in a technical field cannot see out of it and spew jargon and lack understanding. I know many women in IT who have the same issue. It is just part of the mindset of being very technical. Similar things happen in jargon-filled sports – try hanging out with climbers, and you will quickly tire of their talk of “finger jams” and “lead climbs too”. To an outsider it is meaningless, but most people have no “need” to get involved.

    That more and more bloggers are women, and they “need” to learn tech to deal with their sites, I think does not make them like the techies who do it as a job and loved it since birth. They have come at it from a different path, so have other skills to help explain it.

    Let’s face it men and women are fundamentally different in many ways. I still watch in awe as my girlfriend has to turn a map upside down to understand it. Again it is the different way we tick and see things.

    But you have discovered the problem with IT, and one of the many reasons I am trying to leave it. The people populating it are quite entrenched in it and not open in general. They should not be put on a helpdesk. But lack of numbers (of good ones) like in any profession has lead to this problem. Try hiring good developers too, who can also deal with clients. A rare beast indeed.

    I personally hope I can be different and less techie despite understanding all that stuff, but it is ultimately a complex field filled with jargon. And those in it forget what it is like not to know what they know.

    But I recall you were going to make a course or similar to help with this growing niche? seems a good idea for sure!

    have a great week
    Ashley Faulkes lovingly created…9 Inspirational Bloggers to Give You a Blogging BoostMy Profile

    • says

      Thanks Ashley for this comment. Being well versed in technical speak can be a bane, especially if you are highly intelligent and know a huge amount! Even I suffer from this problem in my own small way, which is particularly apt as I am in the business of trying to explain it in ordinary, everyday words!

      I often think that people who are so focused in one area, to the detriment of anything else that does on around them, are much better off.

      You’re right, to come across a web developer who is also a designer and has the gift of being able to explain his/her profession in a way the client can fully understand, is a rarity. They should be revered like gold dust (especially if their designs are brilliant!). I have had the pleasure of meeting someone almost like that, although she didn’t excel in WordPress unfortunately.

      And men are from Mars, etc. Women need to turn their maps around because our perception of spacious awareness is wired differently in our brains. Yet you ask my husband to cut up a carpet via the underside (pattern is reversed and upside down) and he gets it totally wrong! Is that why there are not so many male dressmakers?

      There is definitely a need to adapt WordPress teaching to middle aged women entrepreneurs, and I have already made a start! My beginner blogger e-course is already available from my website and I’m working on the post-beginner e-courses (because there are more than one depending on various requirements). Check out my website, especially once I’ve developed the beginner section into its full glory!
      Alice Elliott lovingly created…How to claim Google Authorship if you have a WordPress.com blog [infographic]My Profile