Gender Imbalance In Mormon Studies

Recently, I met a member of the Mormon Studies publishing establishment. He spoke to me about the gender differences in Mormon Studies publishing. He noted specifically that his organization receives almost no submissions from women; while the group wishes to redress the gender imbalance among their authors, they are unable to do so.

The conversation got me thinking about whether there exists a gender imbalance in Mormon Studies as a whole. I found myself asking: do women publish Mormon Studies material as often as men? What sorts of things do women publish? Is their focus academic work, personal narrative, theology?

Yesterday, I sat down and rifled through Dialogue and BYU Studies, two bastions of Mormon Studies work. I identified the authors of all the journals’ content from 2001 to the present, excepting letters to the editor; I then determined the authors’ genders and compared female and male contributions to the journals. I was saddened to find that a gender imbalance does indeed exist.

Of 470 authors published in either journal, 32% were female. Of those female authors, 65% published academic articles, theology work, and book reviews–works I have informally categorized as “hard”; 31% published only personal narratives, poetry, and fiction (“soft” works). Of the 68% of authors who were male, 80% published hard works; 20% published only soft works.

Of the 274 authors who contributed to Dialogue during the period in question, 39% were female and 61% were male. Of Dialogue’s female authors, 69% contributed hard works; 31% contributed only soft works. Of the journal’s male authors, 67% published hard works and 33% presented only soft works.

Of the 212 authors who contributed to BYU Studies, 23% were female and 77% were male. 68% of the females published hard works, and 31% published only soft works. 92% of the males published hard works, and 8% published only soft works.

While both journals had important gender gaps among authors, the 16-point gap between the journals’ percentages of female to male authors was also statistically significant, with a standard error of .04. And while female and male contributors to Dialogue contributed very similar content, with no statistically significant difference, female and male contributors to BYU Studies did publish different types of content at statistically significant rates–they showed a 24-point gap in publishing of hard works. That gap is significant, with a 0.070 standard error.

1. I excluded two authors, both of them published in BYU Studies, from the sample because I could not determine their genders–their names were not clearly gendered, and I could not identify them through research online.
2. A number of authors published in both journals; for the total results, I checked for author duplication.


  1. I should note that the person mentioned at the top of my post is affiliated with neither Dialogue nor BYU studies–he’s at a publishing house.

  2. Kevin Barney says:

    Don’t tell me; one of the two authors whose gender you couldn’t identify was “Pat” of Saturday Night Live fame (aka Julia Sweeney), right?

    It’s nice to have some hard numbers to back up what I’m sure is the off the cuff impression of most of us that such an imbalance indeed exists.

    The questions are: why does it exist, and what, if anything, can be done to rectify it?

  3. Taryn,

    It matters very much just whom it was you met. If you met Gary Bergera the answer to Kevin’s question is different than if you met Willis Regier.

  4. Kevin, I agree that you’ve highlighted the most important questions raised by Taryn’s post.

    With respect to why the gender gap in Mormon Studies publishing exists, I see three alternatives: 1) Women are systematically less interested in doing Mormon Studies research than are men; 2) Women are interested in doing Mormon Studies research but feel that there is no place for them in the field; or 3) Women are doing Mormon Studies work at a rate similar to that of men but are being disproportionately rejected for publication.

    My somewhat informed guess is that alternative #3 isn’t really plausible. Probably #1 or #2 is going on. In either case, there’s a problem; something about Mormon culture or Mormon Studies in particular is projecting a possibly self-reinforcing predominantly male image.

    What can be done? Truly difficult to say. A good first step, though, would be for all the brilliant women in our online community who are interested in Mormon topics to develop and publish stuff in Mormon fora. Whether the problem is that women don’t feel welcome or that women have distinctive substantive interests in Mormonism that aren’t being addressed, a bit of an influx of high-quality female work would at least do something to change the picture, no?

  5. Melissa,

    I’ve never met either of them, and as my conversation was with a new acquiantance who can’t have known he’d spawn a blog post, I’m not going to mention his name.

    Anyway, it doesn’t actually matter. In the case of these journals, the data speak for themselves. In the case of the publishing houses, a visit to their websites for lists of recently published and upcoming books should provide you with information about authors’ genders.

  6. Brent Hartman says:

    There’s just not enough Eliza Snow’s in the world. :(

  7. It would be interesting to see the ratio of men/women readership of Dialogue and other such literature. Maybe the two are comparable.
    Maybe it should be considered that many women in the church do it out of necessity—and therefore they work in more lucrative fields–and don’t have side time to do any writing/research. Or maybe women would be interested, but are busy raising families.
    I am sure many women don’t find the research pertinant to their current life situation, therefore it is simply not as interesting.

  8. Part of the hard/soft disparity between BYU Studies and Dialogue is due to the fact that BYU Studies doesn’t really carry alot of “soft” articles while there are regular features at Dialogue. This doesn’t address the gender gap.

    This is interesting, but I think that there will always be a gender gap in every field. I don’t think that there will always be a 50:50 split. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were always more male physicists. I also wouldn’t be surprised if there were always more boys with autism or that like video games. That isn’t to say that I believe that math or physics comes easier to men or women, because I don’t.

    I do think that there are likely more men than women scholars of Mormonism because there is traditional pressure for women to not persue a career if they are married. This takes out a significant amount of potential scholars.

  9. As long as we’re busy ferreting out gender imbalance in popular Mormon pastimes, I’d like to know why the men here at BCC have not done a similar analysis of male vs female participation in scrapbooking.

  10. J. Stapley, I’d quickly point out that the mystery with respect to the hard/soft content at BYU Studies is actually not fully explained by the relative lack of soft content. Of the 27 BYU Studies authors that Taryn found who published only soft content, more than half (15) were women. This in spite of the fact that less than a quarter of BYU Studies‘ authors were women. In other words, women who do contribute to the journal are disproportionately likely to only publish soft content. That isn’t true in Dialogue, possibly suggesting that BYU Studies has been insufficiently open to female contributions in history, theology, and so forth.

    Also, the academic careers that are closest cognates to the field of Mormon Studies, such as history, literature, religious studies, anthropology, etc., are among the academic fields in which the gender ratios in the U.S. as a whole are most rapidly approaching parity. Even if there will always be more male physicists than females (an idea I’m not persuaded by), the connection with Mormon Studies seems unclear.

    Perhaps, as you suggest, the issue is in fact discriminatory pressures against academic training and/or research careers among Mormon women.

    DKL, as soon as you can suggest reasons that a proportionate male voice in scrapbooking might be normatively important, I’d be happy to follow up on your suggestion. But my initial perception is that, unlike Mormon Studies, which has the as yet not fully realized potential to be perhaps the major opportunity for female voice within Mormonism, proportional male participation in the scrapbooking movement doesn’t seem to remedy any major social needs.

  11. There must be something wrong with me. I’m more interested in why women aren’t more represented in skateboarding.

  12. Roasted Tomatoes, I think that your notion of the importance of the gender of a voice is offensive. It’s coded language for saying that there’s something less valuable about male dominated conversation. Nobody complains of the gender imbalance at Exponent II. Plus, I see no a priori reason why (a) Mormon Studies is more important than scrapbooking, or (b) why women should be just as interested in participating in Mormon Studies as men are.

    I think that the supposition that women and men should be equally interested in things like Mormon Studies is as bogus the supposition that they should be equally interested in scrapbooking or college football.

    In probability, one can start (in the absence of other information) with the assumption that any two logically equivalent interests or disinterests are equally likely. But once an empirical inquiry demonstrates a distribution that contradicts that, one should abandon the assumption that they are equally probable under reasonable circumstances. Positing some external factor to hang this imbalance on is merely taking refuge in auxiliary hypotheses.

    Your normative presupposition that there should be an equality strikes me as strange. Because I see no reason to suppose that anyone, male or female, should participate in Mormon studies, I see no reason to suppose that more people, male of female, should participate in Mormon studies.

  13. Is it really so much of a mystery, RT and Taryn? To me it’s utterly clear, and it has nothing to do with discrimination: women have the babies, and the babies take up all the extra time. I’ve contributed a little tiny bit to Mormon Studies—and every bit I’ve contributed has been specifically solicited—and I’ll tell you without blinking an eye why I don’t do more, though I’d like to: what little time I do find anymore, I have to use toward my primary professional goals (hahaha!). Mormon Studies, so far, is strictly dessert for practicing scholars: that is, it has to be done on leftover time, after the meat&potatoes academic work is done. For women with children, there is no leftover time.

  14. It’s like saying that the gender imbalance in LDS orchestras is due do some unethical social obstruction that disallows a higher percentage of males than females from joining up when it really boils down to men simply being a little more career minded than women in their educational pursuits.

  15. Did you look at FAIR/FARMS work at all? Those bastions of Mormon Studies/apologetics are probably more male-dominated than BYU Studies and would skew the gender balance issue even more.

    And, while we’re studying things, where is the study about women contributors to the Bloggernacle? At first glance, it appears that there’s a pretty gender-imbalanced roundup in electronic Mormon Studies as well, probably due to some of the factors Rosalynde has raised, plus perhaps a few more:

    Mormon men are encouraged to study, explicate and expound on scriptures and theology much more than Mormon women are at an institutional level, sometimes quite subtly. How many CES directors are women? How many paid full-time Seminary teachers are mothers? How many tenured BYU (all campuses) religion faculty are men, and how many are women?

    Anecdotally, when you think of the competent scriptorians/church history experts in your stake, ward, mission or branch, how many of them are men and how many are women?

  16. I suspect there is a gender imbalance for the same reason that the Relief Society (at least in my ward) always has flowers and table cloths and the men never do. For the same reason, the women spend days and sometimes weeks preparing their lessons whereas the men do it the night before — if not the few hours before. Men and women are just different in some ways.

  17. “Soft Works?

    “Hard Works?”

    Taryn, you’re revealing your own predjudices here (and they’re hardly unique). This bias of “soft” vs. “hard” is exactly the reason that there is an imbalance in gender participation in the dialogue.

    When women do publish in a medium suited to their own sensibilities, no one takes it seriously. There also seems to be an assumption among academics and the feminist movement generally, that if women aren’t “acting like men” or “following the traditional path to glory,” they aren’t doing anything worthy of respect.

    No wonder so many women take the hint and decide that these forums aren’t worth their time.

    Why bother publishing if all you’re going to get is a pat on the head and “that’s nice dear” from some condescending academician?

  18. Steve Evans says:

    Susan, why aren’t more women interested in skateboarding? The mind boggles.

    Taryn: W O W, nice post; very interesting. I think Rosalynde’s way off though to reduce this all to child-rearing. Her analysis of her own situation is no doubt flawless, but I know of many smart mormon women, who are -gasp- childless, and who nevertheless do not participate in Mormon Studies….

  19. I think that child-rearing is certainly a large part of it. But I think that role models should be considered too. Eliza R. Snow, who was not really into mormon studies anyway, is not exactly a person that most young girls would like to be. Granted there are more female role models now, but still none as well known as, say, BH Roberts, for the males. BH was married, a few times, with children– didn’t have to be tragic childless widow of the prophet to be well-known or to have time to write.

  20. Seth, I categorized them as “soft” and “hard” works primarily because the best analogy I could think of was that of soft and hard science. Sorry if I offended you. Give me a better term, and I will glady use it.

    Re: your analysis of my own gender bias: the thing is, I’m a woman, and I’ve never really been inclined to write (or to read) personal narratives, fiction, or poetry about Mormon issues. It’s just not my thing. I’m interested in facts, figures, and ideas presented in a relatively stand-alone format. Give me Arrington, or Quinn, or Mauss.

    I neither endorse nor agree with the idea that such a preference is a demonstration of male behavior. I’m not acting male in any biological sense, and I don’t think a man who writes poetry is acting female. I know that there is a widespread belief within Mormonism that abstract, scientific, non-personally related thinking is male behavior, and that female thought and self-expression is characteristically focused on personal experience or the sort of creativity that leads to fiction and poetry rather than research. I suspect, though, that this is a result of The Way Things Are rather than of The Way Things Must Be.

    Current research
    indicates that cognitive gender difference, inasmuch as it exists, is much, much less significant than socialization.

    Next week, RT and I are going to post some data on female and male education levels among church members; we both want to see whether the publishing level and content imbalance may have anything to do with disparate levels of postgraduate education. It’s quite possible that women simply aren’t submitting hard content to the journals because fewer pursue educational paths which would lead them to take an interest in Mormon Studies, isn’t it?

    Steve, I’m with you on the child-rearing thing, but also think Rosalynde’s idea that academic women don’t have time to engage in extra research may have some credibility. Isn’t there a lot of data that shows women, even professional women, as taking on much more housekeeping than their spouses? I don’t know whether that bears out for academics, though.

    Paula, I can also see this as a modeling problem–frankly, I suspect that many women who might enjoy this type of study–whether as researchers or simply as readers of the journals–may feel unwelcome in the field, simply because there aren’t many women involved in it. I know I avoided serious participations on the blogs for a long time because they seemed male-dominated and because I expected Mormon men to treat me like an idiot. (Sorry, all you great male bloggernaclers–it was an unfair prejudice due to a lifetime of conditioning and a few bad experiences right when I began blogging). I can see how discomfort with the peer group might lead people to stay away from Mormon Studies. To that, I say, “Recruit! Recruit! Find more women!”

  21. DKL (12),

    You’re smart enough to know that it can be important to give different treatment to differently situated groups, but you’re also stubborn enough to pretend that you don’t understand this fact.

    Given that male dominated conversation exists, oh, everywhere in the world, it’s laughably disingenuous to pretend that there’s no value to (1) establishing female forums, such as Exponent II, and (2) bringing more women into the male-dominated forums that exist everywhere else.

    But if you prefer a swap, then I’m sure feminists would be happy to take you up on it. Let’s see:

    Women get Dialogue, Sunstone, FAIR, FARMS, 95% of scriptures, 80% of the bloggernacle, and most positions of any import in church heirarchy. Plus a substantial pay boost. Men get Exponent II. And if they fuss and whine enough, they also get a bunch of mushy statements from church leaders about their importance and spirituality.

    Sounds like a fair trade, right?

  22. “Anecdotally, when you think of the competent scriptorians/church history experts in your stake, ward, mission or branch, how many of them are men and how many are women?”

    Actually yes—I think it is about equal. Men do not participate in the women’s lessons, therefore you may not realize this, but there are a great number of scriptorian, church history experts who are women. The leadership is male, and therefore we hear from them more as a church body, so it may just seem to those that only hear from that side of the pulpit that the women of the church don’t take up such things. But it simply is not true. In RS and other places, the women who are the scriptorians are filling the primary, yw and sunday school. They are busy teaching!

    It seems to me that plenty of people have written that childbearing/family raising is factor.I think it really is a huge factor. And if you are going to do a study on postgraduate education in the church, it is also going to be a HUGE factor.

    As far as the soft v. hard writing goes—I would hardly call this kind of research “science”. No offense.

    Also, childless women may not be interested in Mormon Studies, or they may. I am sure the ratio of men interested in this is probably equal to that of women, with children or childless–However if you go by ratio of men available for academic pursuit to women’s availability–there simply are more men that aren’t stay-at-home dads. I am sure that if the roles of mothers and fathers were reversed–the research would be predominately from women. The question should be is it skewed to one perspective because it is predominately male? Because surely it would be if it was mostly female.

    As far as there being more emphasis on men becoming great scriptorians–I have wondered this many times–but in reality I can’t find any leaning toward men knowing the gospel better. Surely we understand that especially in the capacity of mothers it is vital our children learn the gospel from us.
    And as far as seminary goes–in California where I am at the teachers are always predominately women, including the head or “principal”. It simply is logistics. Women who are busy raising there families have more time to teach early-morning seminary because of the time of day. It won’t be taking so much from their families.

    Women who have children most often read “practical” things that will assist them in running the house. More women blog on mommy boards than other boards. More women blog on FMH than other blogs–I think if we keep looking too hard we’ll miss the obvious.

  23. Brent Hartman says:


    It’s sad that most young girls today wouldn’t want to be like Eliza Snow. I can’t think of a more powerful woman.

    I also find it odd that you believe Eliza wasn’t into Mormon studies. I doubt that there is woman alive that’s studied mormonism half as much as Eliza Snow.

    Perhaps women don’t write about gospel issues because they’re afraid that they’ll be known as sad, tragic figures, for delving into the weightier parts of the gospel.

    I guess the life of this great woman just isn’t great enough to be considered by the enlightened women of today.

  24. Steve, to say that women who are interested in Mormon Studies do not have time to participate because of their children is not to say that women without children do participate because they’re childless. Is it? We’re both a little sleep deprived these days, I imagine, and maybe we’ve misunderstood each other.

    My point is just this (taken completely out of the air): Out of 1,000 Mormons, 100 are interested in Mormon Studies. Out of those 100, 50 are going to have the expertise to produce scholarship. Of those 50, let’s say 15 are women and 35 are men. Of those 15 women, maybe 10 of them will have children and child-rearing obligations. That leaves 5 women and 35 men who have both the expertise and the time to contribute to Mormon studies.

    It’s been my experience that if one of those five women makes even the most tentative of gestures of interest in contributing to Mormon studies, she will be encouraged and mentored and solicited by publishers and journals who would heartily like to gain credibility by reducing their gender imbalance. I really don’t think it’s an issue of women being made subtly or blatantly unwelcome in the field, I just don’t.

    I think the institutional bottleneck—outside of the obstacles of mothering—is in producing women who have the expertise to contribute. We don’t produce a lot of women with advanced degrees. We can talk about the reasons for this, but they’re likely to be very knotty and difficult to get our hands around, and probably not all reducible to the Church. My husband is an MD/PhD, and I’m always reading in his professional materials about the real difficulty PhD programs around the country have in recruiting female candidates, despite the many incentives they offer.

  25. Eliza is beloved and admired–but I don’t think yw know enough about her to want to be like her. I think they more emulate Sherri Dew. And if Eliza had children, she surely could not have done all the other things she did.

  26. Brent, I’d bet Jan Shipps has studied mormonism at least as much as Eliza Snow. Eliza was a gifted and charismatic dministrator, not a scholar.

    Mami, history is a social science, just as anthropology is. Sociology is a social science, and the sociology of religion, our own religion included, is thriving; much of Mormon Studies fits under that rubric.

    Regarding women’s interest in non-childrearing related media: I’m lonely out here, and I want you all to keep my company! I swear we’re interesting, if you’ll only try us on for size!

  27. Rosalynde,

    See, this is what worries me–that some sort of imbalance in opportunity is keeping women out of our collective intellectual life.  Sometimes I think I may be the only woman in this church who expects my husband to make a serious contribution to the care of our children. If I’m going to work full-time (and long term, I’ll have to; otherwise our kids won’t be going to college), I’m going to expect an equal split of such duties. Of course it helps that my husband seems eager to split caregiving.

    What about the women who stay home with their kids and, when their kids go to school, end up finding hobbies to fill up the time that used to go to childcare? I’ve always got at least a few friends in that situation. Why aren’t they interested in this stuff? What are we as a group doing that keeps them out of graduate school, or even just out of less rigorous intellectual Mormon pursuits?

    I don’t think the problem is necessarily caused by the publishers; it was, after all, a man in the publishing industry who pointed the problem out to me. But it could well be an institutionalized form of sexual discrimination–Mormon women are massively underrepresented in Mormon academic and intellectual publications. We know that women are as intelligent as men; I’d bet that Mormon women are interested in their culture and heritage. So why are there so few of us in the nonacademic blogs, much less the academic journals? Are fewer of us prepared for it, educationally speaking? Are we uncomfortable dealing directly with men? (If so, why?) Are fewer female Mormon academics interested in Mormon Studies?

    Everyone: let’s skip past the whole “I bet it’s this, I bet it’s that, how can you not understand that it’s this?” thing. If you have a potentially viable theory–and it sounds like some of you do–dig some data up to support it.  I’d be glad to try and help those with limited time or access to information.  This is a mystery I’d really like to solve.

  28. I generally agree with Rosalynde that women are busy with children, but we should also remember that women have been discouraged from writing about womens’ experiences in the Church (i.e., Maxine Hanks). Mormon “studies” hasn’t been hospitable to subjects that many women find interesting and worth pursuing academically (i.e., feminism).

  29. P.S. Great post, Taryn!

  30. Jonathan Green says:

    Taryn, since you’re planning to make this a continuing project, I’ll also suggest that “hard” and “soft” aren’t good labels, since those labels would seem to describe two ends of the same spectrum and give positive weight to one end. (Physicists seem to love talking about “hard” and “soft” sciences; sociologists, not as much.) But it doesn’t sound like you actually care about poetry published in Dialogue all that much to begin with, and I don’t know if poetry really has all that much to do with Mormon Studies. Why not just drop it altogether and focus on the academic contributions? You don’t give statistics for poetry etc. in your main post, but RT’s comment #10 suggests that there’s rough gender parity, which makes for an interesting comparison but may not tell us much about the kind of academic work you’re primarily interested in.

    Book reviews, academic articles, and theology strike me as very different kinds of beasts, by the way. I assume you’re keeping your data for those three separate. Eventually it would be nice to see the figures broken down. If you’re looking for another source of data, how about presentations at the various Mormon Studies conferences? It shouldn’t be too hard to find programs going back a few years, and the barriers to presenting a conference paper are lower than for publishing an article.

    Initially, I’m skeptical that the lack of role models is the problem, since the 40% of Dialogue contributors who are women seem to provide a lot of possible role models.

    I rather suspect that Rosalynde’s suggestion is correct, that child-rearing patterns are going to explain most of LDS women’s different patterns of postgraduate education and also (or consequently) their rate of participation in Mormon studies. The church places great value on starting a family, but childbearing also imposes enourmous costs. I’m quite interested to see what you find out about educational patterns, though.

    It’s also worth looking into the institutional context of the contributors. My hunch is that the authors of most articles are either tenured academics or non-academics with no worries about the opinion of a tenure committee at some point in the future. Assistant professors who realize that publishing in Mormon studies won’t help them earn tenure will probably avoid spending time on the field. Even in academic fields neighboring Mormon studies, what’s the overall gender divide at the associate and full professor ranks?

    About this sentence: “Of those female authors, 65% published academic articles, theology work, and book reviews—works I have informally categorized as “hard”; 31% published only personal narratives, poetry, and fiction (“soft” works),” 65 + 31 = 96%. What happened to the other 4%?

  31. Taryn #20

    Fair enough. I wasn’t offended. More exasperated. I also may have been reading additional content into your post. I’m sure you’re well aware of the debate that discusses how women don’t “get no respect” from either traditional males or feminists seeking to essentially become traditional males. Seems I wrongly linked your post to that controversy.

    However, I would say that the mere fact that one feels the need to separate the two says something about how we regard each domain. Does it not?

  32. Taryn, thanks for your candid comments. I wish you the very best in your future family arrangements. There are serious obstacles to achieving an equitable division of domestic labor after children arrive, and the couples that do achieve something like it are very much the exceptions—but you and RT seem like a couple that can make it work. Although I of course wished for an arrangement like the one you expect, I knew when I married that my husband’s (already embarked upon) career as well as my own desire for a large family would make that completely unfeasible, so I have not used up much of my “marital capital” in pushing for it. (Doesn’t mean I don’t resent it at times, however.) In other respects, however, I am an exception to typical LDS gender patterns—primarily in my education, I think—and I recognize the outlier’s frustration I (think I) hear in your comments.

    At the risk of violating your data-only rule (sorry, I have no data and no access to any), let me hazard a few more speculations. (delete if you like) My mother is a perfect example of the kind of woman you’d like to see participating in academic Mormon studies: she’s bright, has a BA in ancient scripture, her children are half-grown, and she has the interest and inclination. She’s considered going back to school, and I encouraged her in this, but in the end she decided against it. For one thing, years at home with children can be devastating to one’s professional and intellectual confidence. For another—and I suspect you’re not going to like hearing this—most women simply prefer the personal to the analytical. In the end, my mother simply likes the very extensive and rewarding seminary and institute teaching and regional speaking she does more than she would like the library and the CV. I’m different from her in this respect, but I recognize that I’m temperamentally different from many women. If the Church as an institution put a high priority on getting more women into academia, I’m sure we would see some changes. But it doesn’t—it doesn’t put a high priority on getting many men into academia either, frankly—and so we probably won’t see a lot of change happening here at the instigation of the highest councils of the Church.

    But neither does that mean that there’s active insitutional discrimination going on. As is obvious from my comments, I’m just really really turned off by cries of sex discrimination in academic hiring (and similar contexts) these days. They’ve not been substantiated in other contexts, they tend toward the whiny and the recriminating, and they seem wilfully to ignore inconvenient data.

  33. Taryn, I have kids and I like talking/thinking about Mormon studies, although I find few women IRL who want to engage in the topic. I’m wondering about the role that BYU might play in this. A few points I wondering about:

    –According to Margaret Toscano’s article in the July 2004 Sunstone, the BYU Religion Department only has 5 full-time faculty members among 67 men,and the philosophy department has no women faculty members (I’m not sure if these numbers are correct). She posits that “the absence of women in authoritative positions and authoritative discourse makes it difficult for younger women to imagine themselves as theologians.” This could certainly extend to other fields.

    — Similarly, up until fairly recently, BYU had no maternity leave, which would not exactly encourage female scholars to seek it as an employer. While Mormon studies certainly doesn’t need to take place at BYU, I would imagine that it would flow out of there more then any other place.

    — Actions like the one that BYU’s board of trustees took against Laurel Thatcher Ulrich in the early 1990s shows that female scholars are perhaps not valued in general.

    Historically speaking, there just isn’t much incentive to become involved in Mormon studies for women. I hope this is changing. Add to it child-rearing responsibilities for some, and just the challenge in general for most academics to do some Mormon studies “on the side” of their career and this might account for some of the absences.

  34. Jonathan Green says:

    Taryn, you lost me on “let’s skip past the whole ‘I bet it’s this’ thing…. If you have a potentially viable theory…dig up some data to support it.” You’ve made an interesting initial study, but addressing possible alternative explanations is an essential part of the process, not something that can be skipped past, especially if you’re going to raise the possibility of “institutionalized sexual discrimination.” An alternative explanation that I find more likely is that church-promoted attitudes towards childrearing explain most of the discrepancy between male and female rates of participation. That is, rather than discouraging female scholarship, the church promotes female childbearing, which sucks time and energy away from scholarship. I’m content to remain in blissful ignorance. If you want to convince me otherwise, YOU gather the data and argue for a different interpretation.

  35. I have to think that actions like excommunicating women scholars and writers like Lavina Fielding Anderson and Maxine Hanks and disfellowshipping Lynne Kanavel Whitesides might be discouraging to women. How much can women do in ground men have trod over and over while be strongly discouraged from taking new directions themselves?

  36. Steve Evans says:

    wait a minute…. I must be sleep-deprived if I just read that Rosalynde passed off my disagreement with her as the product of sleep deprivation. Honestly, my personal experience is not aligned with yours, Ros, on this one. I am much more in-line with Kris’ view that female participation suffers in mormon studies not primarily due to the women (and their babies) but due to the social confines of the field and the fact that discourse in Mormon Studies is overwhelmingly masculine. The strong Mormon women I know who have participated in Mormon Studies have done so with children in tow — and their primary complaint is not that female childbearing “sucks time and energy away from scholarship.”

  37. Robert, I agree. The pool is small enough, that ditching 3 or 4 of them makes a statistical impact on the outcome. Thankfully, Lavina Fielding Anderson is still doing Mormon Studies scholarship.

    Kaimi Given that male dominated conversation exists, oh, everywhere in the world, it’s laughably disingenuous to pretend that there’s no value to (1) establishing female forums, such as Exponent II, and (2) bringing more women into the male-dominated forums that exist everywhere else.

    Nice straw man, Kaimi. I never said there was “no value.” In fact, I believe that there is value in gender exclusive and gender dominated outlets as such, whether male or female. For example, I went to an all-male college, and based on my experience there I’d recommend a single-sex education to anyone, male or female.

    But this notion that male dominated conversation is so dominating that it leads to a scarcity of female voices is not only inaccurate, it’s insulting. How do women feel about your attitude that they must be gently coaxed into areas where a questionable supposition about “fair” distribution makes them “under-represented”? Women don’t need you (or others) fighting for their inclusion into areas where they have complete access. Frankly, the extent to which women can’t stick up for themselves in the world of Mormon studies is the extant to which I’m indifferent about their under-representation.

    Kaimi Women get Dialogue, Sunstone, FAIR, FARMS, 95% of scriptures, 80% of the bloggernacle, and most positions of any import in church heirarchy. Plus a substantial pay boost. Men get Exponent II

    The “substantial pay boost” is statistical smoke and mirrors. If women really did the same work for 30% less than men (or even %6 percent less), then it would be impossible to find a woman for hire anywhere. Even the worst misogynists would hire women merely for the contribution they made to the bottom line.

  38. Okay, kris and Steve, you’re two of my favorite people on the planet, and I see eye-to-eye with you on so many other things, so help me out with this one. I’m really listening, I promise.

    What do you mean by “the social confines of the field” and the “overwhelmingly masculine” discourse of Mormon Studies? And I mean really specifically here. What is the confinement and the particular masculinity you see? Is it something more than the simple fact that there are more men than women doing it? And how, in concrete ways, does this stop women from jumping in—particularly to something like blogging, that has virtually no start-up costs? Why might it be that women have moved into, say, medicine in such great numbers—now constituting a majority of incoming med school classes—despite its overwhelmingly masculine demographic a few decades back?

  39. hey Steve, if you’re agreeing with me, you’re agreeing with Rosalynde … I just piggy-backed on her idea in #13 about Mormon studies being dessert :)

    Also, as to Robert’s comment in #35, I’m wondering if it is valuable to distinguish between Mormon women’s/feminist studies as compared to Mormon studies in general? While the excommunication of the women above,certainly had an impact on women scholars, I would think it had a lesser impact on a female scholar looking at an aspect of Mormon studies that doesn’t focus on gender for instance? …

  40. Brent, I don’t know of Eliza R. Snow writing anything about Mormonism as analysis of mormon history or culture. I’m ready to admit that I”m wrong. As far as I know she mostly wrote poetry and some personal journals. So that’s why I wouldn’t consider her to be someone who did Mormon Studies. Someone who wrote mormon literature, yes. As a role model, she was someone who was married to two important men, as a plural wife, and never had children– not exactly the situation that most young women want to be in. I can’t think of any prominent men in a similar situation.

    And I’d agree with Taryn that women have in the past frequently been made to feel unwelcome. They’ve not been expected to participate. I could list several examples, involving Sunstone in one instance, FARMS in another, and the Journal of Utah History in another, but I don’t really want to name names right now. As for me, I’m interested in Mormon history, some literature, and mormon culture, but just dont’ feel any desire to participate in anyway except as a reader. I’m not really sure why that is.

  41. Hmm, it occurs to me that what I meant was Utah Historical Quarterly, not Journal of Utah History.

  42. Eric Russell says:

    I just don’t understand how everyone has overlooked the truly shocking data that only 3 of 11 listed BCC permabloggers are women. That’s about 27%! Why is that? I’m leaning hard towards the very oppressive masculine atmosphere here at BCC, but I suppose I could be convinced otherwise.

  43. Taryn Nelson-Seawright: See, this is what worries me–that some sort of imbalance in opportunity is keeping women out of our collective intellectual life.

    Look, I’m as interested in Mormon Studies as just about anyone on the bloggernacle. But it boggles my mind to hear it referred to in any sense as “our collective intellectual life.” Most Mormons with an interest in things academic couldn’t care less about Mormon Studies. And, needless to say, most Mormons (like most people) couldn’t care less about things academic. Most Mormons don’t even know what “Mormon Studies” is. It is a niche market within the niche market of academically interested Mormons. This cannot possibly qualify as anything approaching our “collective intellectual life.”

    Taryn Nelson-Seawright: What are we as a group doing that keeps [female Mormons] out of graduate school, or even just out of less rigorous intellectual Mormon pursuits?

    Graduate school can be useful, but the most useless person I know has no fewer than 3 graduate degrees. Let me be the first to go on record lauding Mormon women for being more likely to do something useful with their lives and avoiding the temptation to fund graduate programs.

    I find the assumptions underpinning your paragraph to be unbearably elitist–as though there’s something innately more important about “intellectual” discussion and institutional “education” than scrapbooking, college football, traveling, or enjoying the fellowship of friends and family. Some people (male and female alike) just don’t care about “rigorous intellectual Mormon pursuits”; Mormon Studies isn’t on their radar screen, and lofty “intellectual” topics are too impractical to spark an interest. And I think that’s great.

  44. Steve Evans says:

    Kris (#39): aw, crap!

    Rosalynde, I wish I had the answers to your questions. All I have are personal anecdotes.

    Eric Russell (#42): rightly pointed out. It is a disparity I decry with some regularity, as the other permabloggers here will attest. We plan on rectifying this situation as soon as possible.

  45. Incidentally, I think that it’s worth noting that if you were to list the top 5 Mormon Studies scholars or the top 5 most influential Mormon Studies scholars, you would have to include Fawn Brodie and Juanita Brooks. I’ll leave aside the question of who the other 3 would be. Supposing (for the sake of argument alone and not based on any presumption to of plausibility) that the other 3 are men, this means that 2/5 would be women, or 40%.

    There are a few of interesting things about this. First, 40% is about the same as the publication rate of women in Dialogue. Second, the importance of Brooks and Brodie in Mormon studies has to do with the quality of their work, not the quantity, which was downright meager by today’s standards. Third, both Brodie and Brooks did the bulk of their Mormon studies work before the rise of 2nd wave feminism supposedly made it possible for women to rise to the top of their profession. Fourth, Brodie was excommunicated and Brooks was threatened with excommunication, but I think it’s fair to say that this had more to do with their work than their gender.

  46. Regarding Kris’s comment on #39 about distinguishing Mormon studies from Mormon feminist studies, I think the excommunication of these women made the distinction for you:”You can go here, but not there–or go there at your own risk.” BYU has struggled with similar issues regarding women’s studies and academic freedom.

    By the way, I have a three year-old with me as I write. Mom is on an errand. It has taken me about 20 minutes to write this short response between stirring soup, a quick session of playing dolls, cutting up an apple, getting a drink of water, demands to play outside, and answering various questions. I admit to not being a great multi-tasker, but I can see how taking care of children and a household could cut into time for research and writing.

  47. Julie M. Smith says:

    And I don’t know about Brodie, but Brooks had a whole bunch of children.

  48. Brodie raised three children (which she considered her top priority) while she was teaching at UCLA and writing 4 major biographies.

  49. Most Mormons with an interest in things academic couldn’t care less about Mormon Studies.

  50. Taryn,
    I myself am not very interested in the mommy-blogs–But I think most mommies are.
    I know it’s a social science–but I admit I have a stupid bias against calling the social sciences–science. Although they employ scientific method, I don’t see any exactness like in math and physics. I know this goes against all reason and academia, so I’ll shut-up in the future.

    Kris–I think DKL is right—what you are saying comes across as elitist, as if intellectual pursuit is somehow the only worthy cause. While certainly it is true while “retired” homemakers may feel less capable and out of practice in academic fields, it may just be that they prefer spending time with family.
    I really hate scrapbooking, but some women like it. I don’t think this makes one of us better or worse or less intelligent, but maybe just have different interests. (although I do think some mothers think I am somehow doing my children a disservice because my children will never have an elaborate scrapbook)
    If women have spent years raising families and gotten really good at quilting, etc., they may simply prefer to continue making quilts for hospitals and the humanitarian aid center. Surely this service is just as noble?

  51. My thought on DKL’s comment on Brodie and Brooks: Are you making the case that because women labor under difficult conditions, only the best women get published, while men, having greater access produce some good work but a lot more hack-stuff?(insert tongue into cheek . . . but maybe not). Perhaps men need more restrictions on their ability to work so they can produce only the very best stuff.

    Second, gender is a factor in whether or not someone is censured by the Church in that it is primarily women who do feminist scholarship (seems likely, right?) and it is an area of study that the Church has officially discouraged. So there seems to be a categorical prejudice against some kinds of research Mormon women can do.

  52. Robert, I’m not making that case, and I don’t venture to hypothesize about who gets published and why, except that I do think that nowadays (thankfully) things are fairly open to people regardless of race or gender. If there’s any real case that I’m making (beyond just inserting an observation prompted by reading this thread) it’s that women have played an essential role in the growth of Mormon Studies. In fact, saying this sounds odd, because it is a fact that is so obvious that it goes without saying, but mentioning it implies that it bears emphasizing. I’m also implying that the role models for women in this field are every bit as robust and colorful as the role model for men in this field.

    Also, I think that my comment that Brodie and Brooks output was meager was rash and incorrect. Though Brodie’s output in Mormon Studies was not huge, her output overall was voluminous by any standard. She is arguably the most prolific scholarly biographer in the 20th century. Indeed, her work played no small part in shaping the genre of scholarly biography. Whatever difficulties she encountered relative to her male counterparts, she easily ran circles around them.

    But Brodie’s Mormon Studies accomplishments did include inventing the Joseph Smith biography, revising her biography, editing Richard Burton’s work on polygamy, and several scattered articles and book reviews on Mormon topics. This is more than all but the most devoted Mormon studies scholars.

    And though Brooks may have a shorter bibliography than many others, doing groundbreaking work just takes up more time. For example, thanks to her, it takes a lot less time to do meaningful work on the Mountain Meadows Massacre.

    It also bears noting that of the 4 Joseph Smith biographies that are really worth reading and recommending (Brodie, Hill, Vogel, Bushman), half of them are by women. Some mormons would omit Vogel because of his naturalism, which means 2/3 are by women. Hill is the worst of these four, but still: It really is a magnificent work. (It is, for example, superior to Van Wagoner’s bio on Rigdon, which is still also good.)

    The more I think about it, the more I think that Taryn is underestimating the role of women in Mormon’s studies.

  53. Brent Hartman says:


    Search out the writings of Eliza Snow and you may be suprised. Her works are too numerous to list here.

    I only wish more women would instruct their sisters to exercise their priesthood authority, like Eliza Snow did. How many sisters today do their duty in laying on of hands and administering to the sick?

    If I was a woman in the church today, I’d feel pretty unimportant. Only men have the authority to act in the name of God in today’s church. Why would I study that in which I have no role? Having children, and saying ‘yes dear’, doesn’t really require a lot of study.

    Maybe if women knew and understood their priesthood authority, they’d be more likely to study, ponder, and write about things of the gospel. Or, they’d get excommunicated.

  54. DKL,

    I would make the same list for Joseph Smith biographies. I happen to like Vogel, secular humanist that I am. I enjoyed Bushman’s work, particularly his treatment of Joseph Smith’s bad temper–it fit my sense of him (always nice when someone agrees with you) and made him seem more vivid.

    Interesting turn in the discussion–the influence of women scholars rather than the volumn of work published and access to publication. I still can’t help but wonder then if more women were writing and publishing, would their influence increase?

  55. I imagine if you went through the past several years of, say, the Yale Law Journal or Nature or Foreign Affairs, you’d find the same sort of disparity.

    In other words, I don’t think your findings say anything special about Mormon culture, but rather reflect contemporary academic culture in general.

  56. Mark Butler says:

    There are great and considerable scriptural arguments to be made for certain changes in the gender related issues in the family and in the Church.

    I don’t want to say that it is some sort of male-rational-logical thing to construct long arguments out of scriptural principles, because then presumably women would either resent it, or if they accepted it would use it as an excuse.

    Either way, I think it is unquestionably true that religious arguments have the greatest impact by far if they are cast into scriptural and not secular terms, and that doesn’t happen nearly enough in general.

    In other words, the scriptures are the authority that binds the church, not secular scholarship, so if one wants to be heard, he or she should argue from the right canon.

  57. #40:”As for me, I’m interested in Mormon history, some literature, and mormon culture, but just dont’ feel any desire to participate in anyway except as a reader. I’m not really sure why that is.”

    It’s because the Man’s keepin’ you down, and you don’t even know it, sister!

    #44: “It is a disparity I decry with some regularity, as the other permabloggers here will attest. We plan on rectifying this situation as soon as possible.”

    Are you going to throw yourself in front of a bus? That’s a gain of 3 percentage points.

  58. Perhaps opening an early hunting season on select M* permabloggers might rectify the situation.

    Now the only question is: whose head would look best over your fireplace?

  59. Having come from contemporary American culture into Mormon culture, I am qualified to opine on this (though not on anything else in this post). Mormon culture is far more restrictive of the acceptable pursuits of women than is American culture as a whole. We’re lagging far behind, unfortunately. How can we fix this?

  60. Maybe it doesn’t need fixing.

  61. I can’t understand why people consider gender imbalance in any field such a big deal. Disparities only matter if they arise from individuals being treated unfairly. And the existence of a disparity is not necessarily indicate that individuals are being treated unfairly. In fact, in fields where disparities are caused by factors other than current unfair discrimination against individuals (which is most fields nowadays), creating or moving towards parity would require that many individuals be unfairly discriminated against. If we care about individuals being treated fairly, then we should stop considering parity a hallmark of social justice and disparity of injustice.

    In the case of Mormon Studies, if the disparity is caused by unfair discrimination, then I would say that that field has a problem that needs to be urgently rectified. [If this were the case, wouldn’t there be some victims out there? Or at least some evidence that would indicate discrimination?]

    If the disparity is due to there being fewer women than men who are inclined to participate in Mormon Studies, then I don’t see why anybody should be very concerned about it.

  62. Good point, Tom. We’re too accustomed to using uneven gender distributions as evidence of discrimination. Interestingly, this only occurs when the person criticizing associates some prestige with the area in which the uneven distribution. My guess is that nobody here cares that most garbage collectors are men, even if were the result of rife misogyny. It’s not the principle of the matter that irritates people, it’s the specific claim to this or that bragging point.

  63. Tom and DKL,

    The problem isn’t necessarily discrimination in the sense of individuals being rejected when they deserve to have their articles accepted. Instead, the concern is just exactly what, in our culture or in the practice of Mormon Studies, is alienating potential female participants. The statistically significant deviations from 50% female publication are reliable evidence that this is indeed happening.

    I don’t think anyone’s arguing that individual papers submitted for publication are being discriminated against. Instead, the problem seems to be either (1) that women aren’t being given the opportunities that would prepare them to participate equally in the conversation, or (2) that the conversation is so dominated by male voices that females feel uninterested or unwelcome. Either of these is a major cause for concern. After all, Mormonism is not an exclusively male culture.

    By the way, the statistical evidence Taryn presented makes it clear that BYU Studies is systematically unfriendly to female authors. That journal underrepresents women even compared to other Mormon Studies outlets. There is some reason to look for actually discriminatory practices with respect to that journal, I fear.

  64. RT The statistically significant deviations from 50% female publication are reliable evidence that this is indeed happening.

    Actually, this is the position that I’m inveighing against (I take it for granted that there is no overt chauvinism at work).

    Your comment contains presuppositions that I reject out of hand as downright silly. You start with the assumption that gender distribution disparities are caused by the oh-so-subtle pernicious subjugation of women that nobody can really point to, and that everybody uses as a mask to identify their pet-peeves about Mormon culture.

    If you try to use this subjugation as an explanation across the board, you get ridiculous results. Women write fewer comic books, too. Is the gender-burdened morass that wester culture thrusts upon women so stifling to them that it snuffs the inner-flame that fuels their love for comic books?

    If you think that I’m arguing that there’s no overt discrimination (rather than just taking it for granted), then please re-read my comments.

  65. “There is some reason to look for actually discriminatory practices with respect to [BYU Studies], I fear.”

    Oh please, RT, this is ridiculous, and frankly it’s this sort of laughably wild accusation that trashes the credibility of this kind of project. In order to make anything like a plausible argument along this line, you’d have to show that BYU Studies accepts a lower percentage of woman-authored manuscripts than do the other outlets, and I’ll hazard a guess that you have no access to that information.

    In the absence of real data, let’s consider a few other factors. Take a look at the staff of the journal. Of the twelve top positions, seven are occupied by women—and this doesn’t consider the recently-retired Doris Dant who for many, many years was the managing editor and de facto boss of the enterprise. If you know anything about Doris, you know that she’d countenance no “actual sex discrimination.” Furthermore, consider that fact that BYU Studies and its editor-in-chief was largely responsible for the remarkable renaissance of the painter Minerva Teichert in the 1990s. In addition, I can personally attest that the editors actively solicit submissions from women, and seek out qualified female referees for submissions.

    I strongly suspect that the disparity exists because BYU Studies is more rigorously academic in tone and content than Dialogue, and thus attracts far more submissions from men than from women because, as noted above, we simply have more working male academics than female.

  66. Instead, the concern is just exactly what, in our culture or in the practice of Mormon Studies, is alienating potential female participants. The statistically significant deviations from 50% female publication are reliable evidence that this is indeed happening.

    I wouldn’t call the existence of a gender imbalance reliable evidence that potential female participants are being alienated. That’s one possibility. Another really good possibility is that in our culture potential female participants are being affirmatively steered toward different pursuits, to which Mormon Studies takes a back seat. That would only be disconcerting if Mormon Studies was a demonstrably much better pursuit for females than the alternatives towards which they’re being steered.

    . . . the problem seems to be either (1) that women aren’t being given the opportunities that would prepare them to participate equally in the conversation, or (2) that the conversation is so dominated by male voices that females feel uninterested or unwelcome. Either of these is a major cause for concern. After all, Mormonism is not an exclusively male culture.

    And Mormon Studies is not Mormonism or Mormon culture. It’s part of it, but a very minor part for most Mormons. There are millions of active Mormons in the U.S. and, unless I’m mistaken, somewhere in the low thousands of regular Dialogue and BYU Studies readers.

    And I would say that if either of your two possible explanations are true, that’s only a “major cause of concern” assuming 1) that there is a vitally important conversation taking place within Mormon Studies and 2) that that conversation suffers a great deal when there is a gender imbalance, neither of which is rock-solid, to say the least. It would also be a problem for people who have a vested interest in the health and credibility of Mormon Studies as an academic sub-discipline. I’m not one of those people, and I don’t know many people who are.

    By the way, the statistical evidence Taryn presented makes it clear that BYU Studies is systematically unfriendly to female authors.

    The statistics raise that possibility, but they make clear no such thing. The statistics themselves can’t distinguish between several possible reasons for the differences between BYU Studies and Dialogue: 1) that BYU Studies is systematically unfriendly to female authors; 2) that Dialogue lowers its standards for submissions by females (it’s systematically overly-friendly); 3) that BYU Studies and Dialogue are equally friendly to female authors but women prefer to publish in Dialogue and, therefore, submit more work to Dialogue; 4) that Dialogue is more systematically unfriendly to female authors than BYU Studies, and so forth. The only conclusion to be drawn from the stats is that there is an imbalance.

  67. To be clear, my #66 was in response to RT’s #63.

  68. Robert, I agree with you on Vogel. I’ve commented elsewhere that I think his book has real merit. I think it’s a shame that William Russell’s review of it in Dialogue says something to the effect that it should eliminate any further doubt that the Book of Mormon was the output of Joseph Smith’s brain. It’s a shame, because (A.) I disagree, (B.) I find the content of Vogel’s bio to be valuable and interesting quite apart from Vogel’s views of Joseph and the Book of Mormon, and (C.) Russell’s comment makes it appear to casual observers that you can’t like Vogel’s book without rejecting the legitimacy of Joseph’s prophetic mission and the historicity of the Book of Mormon.

    Vogel’s own views aside, I think that he’d be pleased to know that Mormons of all stripes can like his book (even if he may be a bit surprised that they don’t draw the same conclusions he does).

  69. Er, I got a little worked up above, RT, sorry. It’s no secret that my father-in-law is the editor of BYU Studies, and I care a great deal about him and about the credibility of the journal to which he has devoted a great swath of his career and which I believe contributes a great deal in constructive and under-appreciated ways. I stand by all my points, and I staunchly believe that your allegations are unfounded, but regret ratcheting up the rhetoric in the way I did.

  70. kristine N says:

    It’s striking to me how similar the statistics Taryn presents are to statistics I’ve seen in other fields. Most science fields that are “hard” (require math) are dominated by men by a 2:1 ratio at best. Physics and math are by far the worst, physics having a 5:1 ratio at the undergrad level. In all sciences I know of the proportion of women decreases with increasing educational level.

    I don’t have statistics offhand, but if you look at science fiction and fantasy publishing you see similar numbers. Women publish less in general, and when they do it’s not hard sci-fi, it’s softer or it’s fantasy. Editors claim the publication rates are a good representation of submission rates, so it’s not that women are descriminated against, it’s that they don’t submit as often.

    In my department (Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Purdue) there are 55 faculty, 7 of whom are female (13%). Almost all of those women are newly hired. For comparison, of the 58 grad students I could determine a gender for, 19 are female (33%). 41 women and 58 men are graduate students in the Penn State Geosciences department (41% female), while 7 out of 37 faculty (19%) are female in the same department. From what I’ve seen, those numbers are pretty typical.

    I suspect in geosciences gender inequity has something to do with the “changing of the guard.” For a long time geoscience, and most other academic pursuits, were pretty much the juristiction of men. A lot of those men from the boy’s club days are still around filling positions. As they retire they’re replaced with a mixture of men and women (still skewed toward men, but better). I suspect until all of the old, white guys who dominated academic circles for so long are entirely replaced we won’t really have a good idea how much gender inequity is inherent in the system.

    Virginia Valian, author of “Why so slow?” spoke about gender inequality and showed some statistics about men and women’s different rates of publication, vs. the number of citations for publications. Men publish more, but women produce works that are more freqently published.

    I’m going to suggest here that we women are more self-critical, which leads us to either 1) not try, or 2) work really hard on things, perfecting them before we’re willing to share ideas and writings in general. This of course decreases overall productivity, but leads to a better product. I don’t know that I see that as an entirely bad thing (except the not trying at all). I think women do make valuable contributions when we try, and I suspect it doesn’t take as much to turn us away. I don’t know if that’s a problem with the system or if women need thicker skins. I know I take criticism less well than my husband.

    The one place I do think there is a gender inequity that needs to be remedied is in the hard vs. soft side of things. I support Taryn’s division here. Hard implies there’s a logical argument involved while soft implies anecdotal information is the primary source. Not to value one over the other, but they do serve very different purposes. Logical arguments are more useful in decision making (I think), while anecdotes are more useful for building community. Both useful, but very different, and I think women, whether naturally or because of social pressures, drift more into community building than decision making. I think there’s a bias against women making hard, logical arguments, though I doubt it’s inherent in acadamie; instead, I suspect it’s social pressure that starts somewhere around middle school. At least, from my recollection that’s when science and math became uncool, which pretty much agrees with everything I’ve read.

  71. Go. Boiler. Makers.

  72. So I notice no one mentions the blogging imbalance. I can say for the record that at M* we’ve tried and struggled to find women to participate but have really had a hard time. Whenever we decide to add someone we end up in a discussion of “what women can we add.” It really is kind of difficult to find women bloggers.

    There are some female dominated group blogs, of course. And I don’t want to marginalize them in the least. But I wonder if both T&S and BCC have had similar problems? While there is some crossover in topic between the female-dominant blogs and the more general blogs there also seems to largely be a very different focus. So I wonder if even those women who have time to get into Mormon Studies perhaps are more oriented towards more narrow topics? (i.e. a particular sub-genre of Mormon Studies more closely tied to Women’s Studies?)

  73. Rosalynde,

    Please note that I haven’t made any allegations or accusations. Instead, I said that BYU Studies’s disproportionately poor record in publishing women over the last six years, in comparison with competitor Mormon Studies journals, forcefully raises the question of whether the journal engages in actual discrimination. Data showing one journal to be far more male-dominated than the other almost inevitably raise such questions.

    You offer a kind of affirmative defense based on the idea that “BYU Studies is more rigorously academic in tone and content than Dialogue,” an explanation that I find unconvincing. I don’t agree that a sharp distinction can be drawn between BYU Studies and Dialogue with regard to the academic rigor of the academic articles published in each forum. As far as I can tell, from citation patterns and extensive reading in both journals, they’re roughly comparable in influence and standards. It is, of course, possible that BYU Studies, and not Dialogue, defines “rigor” in ways that privilege male contributions — but that is no better than actual, individual discrimination, because it is simply institutionalized discrimination.

    I don’t think that the questions raised by clear evidence of gender imbalance, or even the concerns produced by hypothetical clear evidence of institutional sexism, would erode the credibility of BYU Studies; that credibility is, I think, based on the many very good articles the journal publishes. However, to the extent that this is seen by someone to be a problem of credibility, the solution would seem to be straightforward; BYU Studies ought to simply publish more articles by women…

  74. Nope, RT, you can’t even “raise the question” credibly without having evidence that BYU Studies accepts a lower proportion of woman-authored manuscripts than does Dialogue. Your insinuation simply has no basis in the data you have so far collected—particularly given what we know about female participation in Mormon Studies generally.

  75. Rosalynde, with all respect, I don’t see where you’re coming from. What we know is that female publication at BYU Studies is about half as common as at Dialogue — a journal of roughly equivalent standing in the same field. These facts aren’t in dispute. In light of them, I think it’s sensible to ask what BYU Studies is doing to scare away the women. Is it discriminating individually? Is it discriminating collectively by projecting an image that prevents women from submitting? Has it defined out the issues that women care about? Is there some other, more innocous explanation? I don’t know — but the pattern is troubling. No rhetoric can change that fact.

  76. RT: …disproportionately poor record in publishing women over the last six years,

    You just can’t allow yourself to get past this ludicrous assumption that there’s something wrong with outlets that publish fewer items by women that by men when (and apparently only when) those outlets relate to Mormon studies. You haven’t advanced a single argument in favor of this assumption in the face of several cogent arguments against it. I take this as a sign of close-mindedness.

  77. DKL, I have advanced arguments, and nobody’s responded to them. I’ve taken that to mean that the part of the conversation regarding whether it’s okay for women to be excluded from Mormon discourse was not open to me — so I’ve let it pass.

    But, quickly, the idea I raised earlier (and that Taryn has also sketched) is that women have few venues for making authoritative contributions to discourse in Mormonism. Ecclesiastical authority is even less available than it was in the pre-correlation Relief Society, so women can’t really speak with authority within the institutional church. Mormon Studies is therefore a normatively important space where women could be given authoritative voice — if they weren’t underrepresented there, as well.

    Why do you think I only care about gender imbalance in Mormon Studies? I also think that gender imbalance in the mathematical and physical sciences is a socially consequential legacy of sexism and needs attention. Imbalances also exist in other intellectual spheres, although they are diminishing. Gender imbalances in political leadership likewise strike me as troubling. I expect that you will disagree on these points; it seems that you have no problem accepting a social system in which women are disproportionately excluded from positions of power or of public visibility. That is, of course, your right.

  78. RT,

    I think DKL (among others) is suggesting that you have not, in your list, considered a reason #4–this may reflect some underlying preference on the part of women to do other things, as opposed to an institutional problem at the journals or in the field of Mormon Studies.

    If you wish to see gender imbalance as automatically a sign of sexism or problematic institutions, well, as you said to DKL, that is your right! :) But given that grown men and women have clearly different preferences and actiivities across a zillion other things (from comic books to scrapbooking to cite two examples on this thread) it seems perfectly plausible, barring better evidence, to entertain more innocuous hypotheses like a difference in professional goals or preferences. There may also be some institutional issues as well, but it is an open question how much of the gap is caused by such issues.

    By the way, I don’t think Dialogue is an attractive control group for BYU Studies. The two journals differ in a number of ways such that one would not automatically expect the same gender ratio. I would not be at all surprised to discover, for example, that a larger fraction of submissions to BYU Studies come from BYU faculty as opposed to, for example, unaffiliated academics Perhaps Rosalynde knows. This is, I think, part of the point she was making above.

  79. RT, I just reviewed your statements to make sure that I didn’t miss anything, and I did not. Best I can tell, all you’ve done is (A.) defend the statistical analysis that shows an uneven gender distribution, (B.) suggest that its not important that there is “proportionate male voice in scrapbooking might be normatively important,” and (C.) express concern that there is some mystical cultural force excluding women. Am I missing something?

    First of all, if you think that Mormon Studies is somehow different from scrapbooking when it comes to permissible unevenness of gender distribution, then you’re the one who’s obligated to explain exactly how.

    Second of all, suggesting that these constitute arguments in favor of your position is nothing short of preposterous. Indeed, it underscores (emphatically) how blinded you are by your assumption about that your statistical correlation proves a causal link between the Mormon propensity to subjugate women and their scholarly output.

    Third, it’s bad form to avoid making arguments by simply restating your assumptions and then claim that nobody is responding to your arguments.

  80. RT, disparity does not equal discrimination, subjugation, disenfranchisement, or injustice. A system in which anyone is denied or afforded opportunities based on irrelevant characteristics (gender, age, race, etc.) is an unjust system and is entirely unacceptable. But systems that are entirely just may still produce disparities because of factors other than unjust treatment of individuals and systems that are unjust may produce parity. If the study of biology, for example, is entirely open to women but fewer women than men decide to pursue a career in biology then there is no problem. If you insist on parity in biology then you have to either insist on unjust treatment of some individuals based on irrelevant characteristics, which should offend any sensible person, or you have to try to engineer society in a way that creates more female biologists without creating more male biologists, which is a dubious and dangerous undertaking for an unworthy goal. What we should insist on is not parity everywhere, but that each person be treated as an individual and that no person’s irrelevant characteristics become either a detriment or an advantage to them.

    What if it could be proved that all of the imbalances in Mormon Studies could be explained by personal preferences? That women are, on average, just plain less interested than men in producing work in Mormon Studies? Why would this be a problem? Because it doesn’t conform to your own ideal of what Mormon women should be interested in doing? What if Mormon women have a different ideal? What if they’re, on balance, content with the Church and don’t feel as disenfranchised as you seem to think they should? Are you right and they’re wrong? Or vice-versa?

    Fundamentally, your problem can’t just be that there’s an imbalance, since it’s clear that imbalances can be caused by things other than unjust treatment of individuals. The problem is that people aren’t living up to a feminist ideal. In order to get people excited about the existence of an imbalance, you’re going to have to convince them that the feminist ideal is worth living up to, that it’s better than the ideal they’re currently pursuing. Or at least that individuals are being treated unjustly in the field. The data that you have so far are insufficient on both fronts, to say the least.

  81. Wow – reading through some of these comments shed more light on why women may not feel welcome to participate in Mormon Studies. There are many seemingly “irrelevant” characteristics that make it difficult for people to contribute to public discourse. Some of these may be cultural, some gender based.

    To the extent that the structure can change to welcome diversity of opinion and experience, I think people who care about the integrity of Mormon Studies should absolutely make reasonable efforts do so. It does nobody any good to just shrug your (collective) shoulders and say, well, this is just the way things are done around here. Go back to your scrapbooks.

  82. Why do so many people here take a reflexively disparaging view of scrapbooks? If this is the way that you feel about women-dominated activities, then you’ve got some serious gender issues of your own. What business do you have complaining that BYU doesn’t publish enough women?

  83. Comments such as Tom’s and DKL’s remind me exactly why we need to be concerned about gender imbalance.

    As long as the factors giving rise to the imbalance aren’t obvious, you end up with a lot of men patting themselves on the back saying, “well women just aren’t as interested in intellectual things, women don’t want to be leaders, women would prefer to sit at home and cook, so what’s the problem?”

    The problem, of course, is that the cause of the imbalance isn’t some executive editor who rejects manuscripts because they have a woman’s name attached. The problem is much deeper. Its the lack of female role models, when compared to male role models; its the way our sunday school classes are taught from the youngest ages; its what is on tv and on the movies.

    It may well be (responding to 80) that women have a different ideal. But it may also well be that that ideal has been impressed upon them from the earliest age, that it is not a good ideal, and that it should be rejected.

    A lot of my ancestors — and yours, no doubt — believed it was ideal for blacks and whites and to have different drinking fountains, different restrooms, to sit in different sections of restaurants and buses. I’m sure they would have noted that a lot of blacks were happy to accept that role.

  84. DKL, read what jp said in #83. And since you’ve blocked my emails privately reprimanding you for your bullying comments, I’d like to publicly request that you refrain from rudely insulting those who disagree with you. But to answer your question, I have no more business complaining about the gender disparity in BYU Studies than you do defending it.

  85. jp: …you end up with a lot of men patting themselves on the back saying, “well women just aren’t as interested in intellectual things, women don’t want to be leaders, women would prefer to sit at home and cook, so what’s the problem?”

    This statement is more self-serving than anything I’ve said, and I haven’t said anything remotely resembling this. First of all, I’ve disparaged the importance of intellectual pursuits per se. Second, I’m the only one here who has bothered talk in any substantive terms about the contributions that women do make to Mormon studies. I don’t know whether you’re a man or a woman, but either way, if all you’ve got to offer is this kind of hateful, distorting bigotry, then I’d prefer you sit home and cook.

  86. ECS, I already explained this to you: You’re on my junk-mail list filter because of your propensity to treat your access to my email account as a way to spout off in private about whatever issues you had with my comments. Really, enough is enough. If you’re going to send me junk mail, you should be prepared to have it treated like junk mail.

  87. Yes, if “spouting off in private” means that I sent two or three emails to you privately registering my displeasure with you belittling and insulting me in public with your comments. I know you prefer to spar with people in public so that everyone can witness your name-dropping erudition and brilliant wit, but I’d prefer to take those those conversations offline.

  88. Yeah. That’s exactly what I’m talking about.

  89. I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings, DKL. But I must say that for the most reviled blogger in the bloggernacle, you sure have a thin skin.

  90. DKL,

    I find it amusing, given all your posts pointing out other people’s supposed rhetorical mistakes, that you simply resort to ad hominem attacks in response to my post. I’m not sure you actually understand what “hateful” or “bigotry” mean, but we can leave that for another day.

    I agree with you that Mormon Studies is rather unimportant. But it does not follow that equal representation therein is also unimportant.

    I’ll bet if you think really hard, you can think of the flaw in your own argument. But let me know if you need help.

  91. jp: You seem to be reading a lot of things that haven’t been written here.

    As long as the factors giving rise to the imbalance aren’t obvious, you end up with a lot of men patting themselves on the back saying, “well women just aren’t as interested in intellectual things, women don’t want to be leaders, women would prefer to sit at home and cook, so what’s the problem?”

    That may be. But I, for one, have said no such thing and I don’t believe that women should do nothing but sit at home. I think men and women should do whatever they want to do. They should pursue happiness and fulfillment in whatever way they find happiness and fulfillment. My point is that gender imbalance does not equal discrimination, subjugation, disenfranchisement, or injustice. Disparities may arise because of innocuous factors, may they not? Why should parity everywhere be our ideal?

    My last two paragraphs aren’t an argument against any ideal. I’m pointing out that RT’s conclusion that the gender imbalance is a cause for deep concern is only true for people who share his assumptions about what should be the ideal. I am not one of those people.

    It may well be (responding to 80) that women have a different ideal. But it may also well be that that ideal has been impressed upon them from the earliest age, that it is not a good ideal, and that it should be rejected.

    It certainly may be. People that have that belief have much greater concerns than a gender imbalance in Mormon Studies, which would have to be considered a minor symptom of a much greater problem. They’ve got to find a way to teach the people of the Church that they should reject the ideal that they are pursuing. Somehow, I doubt that having 85 more articles published by women in Dialogue and BYU Studies over the past five years would have had much of an effect or that parity in the future will have much of an effect. I don’t know what to suggest for people who have that belief, but I can understand the frustration.

    ECS: I think you’re misunderstanding my use of “irrelevant characteristics.” My statement was just to say that discrimination based on gender, race, age, etc. is wrong.

    I’m sure we disagree on what the ideal society looks like since I see no reason why parity everywhere should be upheld as the ideal, or why we should care if people of different genders do different things, but I do agree that there is such a thing as subtle discrimination and that anybody who wants to produce scholarship in any field should be free to do so.

  92. I had a nice chat with RT about some of these issues. Like a lot of people in this thread, I don’t very much like the gender disparity in Mormon studies. This is a great discussion, Taryn, and I hope helpful in bringing out ways to address the imbalance.

    But I’m not really sure how much of the imbalance is created by factors specific to Mormon studies, and how much of it is just a reflection of general background conditions.

    RT suggested that the relevant comparison should be religion journals, which are (he suggests, and I have no reason to think otherwise) generally gender-balanced. If that’s the comparison, then we’ve got a problem in Mormon studies.

    I’m not sure that that is the proper comparison group, though. Mormon studies doesn’t seem to be all that closely linked to religious studies. Rather, it seems more closely linked to two other fields: history and law.

    History because so many of the important Mormon studies works are history. Bushman, Brodie, Quinn, Arrington — it’s all history. I’m not at all sure what the gender breakdown is in history circles, but I would say that’s a data point that’s quite relevant to the question of how much of this problem is particular to Mormon studies.

    The second field is a bit of a surprise, perhaps. On the other hand, ask yourself, what do each of the following people have in common: Jack Welch, Paul Toscano, Kevin Barney, Blake Ostler, Dallin H. Oaks.

    They’re all attorneys.

    Mormon studies publishes a lot of work done by attorneys. And law is a field that is definitely _not_ gender balanced. To the extent that Mormon studies is simply drawing people from law, it’s drawing from a pool that is not gender balanced to begin with.

    If the gender imbalance is a product of the pools of scholars from which Mormon studies draws, then it’s a thornier problem. Either Mormon studies journals need to draw from other scholarly communities, or we need to fix the gender imbalance in law.

  93. Tom —

    Yes, of course I’m reading things that haven’t been said here. I think that most posts here — at least most posts that advance the conversation — bring in new ideas, new observations, new facts.

    If I misattributed any ideas to you (or to DKL), I apologize. The “lot of men” that I referred to wasn’t meant to include you. Obviously I don’t know you well enough. Your previous posts simply started me down a series of thoughts that got me thinking about men I do know.

    Although I do believe that social conditioning does start from birth, and that some forms of conditioning are better or worse than others, I’m not particularly worried or frustrated by the conditioning I see in the Church. I’m much more worried about similar conditioning elsewhere in society.

    There are all too many of us who are willing to ignore the plight of the inner city, because we sit back and say, “well, if the inner city kids want to do drugs, if they don’t want to go to school, we should let them choose what they want to do.”

    Or, we’re happy to say, “if people want to be promiscuous and give each other AIDS, that’s their choice, let’s let them live with it.”

    I worry, in other words, that the rallying cry of “free choice” is really a way being socially irresponsible.

    At the same time, for those of us who are doing well, its a nice way to pat ourselves on the back and say that we made all the right choices, that we are somehow better than those who didn’t make the same choices. Even though the choices were far easier for us because of our upbringing.

  94. I agree that those attitudes that you cite are irresponsible.

  95. With respect to #92, the gender disparity in law schools seems to be gradually disappearing. If this survey is anywhere near accurate, the numbers of women and men are pretty much even in law school enrollment at many schools (except for BYU and Utah). So, if #92’s theory is correct, we should expect more women to contribute to Mormon Studies in years to come (btw, Molly Bennion is a lawyer – wonder what she thinks of this theory).

  96. Kaimi: (#92) Mormon studies publishes a lot of work done by attorneys. And law is a field that is definitely _not_ gender balanced. To the extent that Mormon studies is simply drawing people from law, it’s drawing from a pool that is not gender balanced to begin with.

    We found the problem. It isn’t gender inequality but professional field inequality. Why aren’t more chocolate makers involved in Mormon Studies? That’s what I want to know. We’re persecuted. Persecuted I say!

  97. ECS — even though the gender disparity in law schools has almost disappeared, women are still dropping out of the practice of law at a much higher rate than men.

  98. Yep. I know. Count me and every woman who started with me in my class at a large East Coast law firm as contributing to those statistics :)

  99. Oops, I pushed “Add my comment” too soon. I meant to also say that the attorneys Kaimi mentioned in his comment are not all practicing, so if it’s background and training in the law that predisposes people to contribute to Mormon Studies, perhaps we will see more from women (ex)lawyers in the future.

  100. Eric Russell says:

    In order to claim that there is a problem with social conditioning, one must still prove that there is a greater value to one activity than another. To say that Mormon studies (or pet issue X) are a more important activity than any of the other activities women choose to participate in is, I think, an extraordinarily arrogant attitude.

    Maybe the problem is with the social conditioning of men. Perhaps it is the case that Mormon studies is a much less valuable activity than other activities men could be participating in (their families for example) but men are just more likely to have been wrongly conditioned to find more value in such things.

  101. jp: you simply resort to ad hominem attacks in response to my post. I’m not sure you actually understand what “hateful” or “bigotry” mean, but we can leave that for another day.

    Not really, jp. You made a comment that compared me to segregationists. Evidently you don’t find segregation to be as distasteful as I do, because I consider that to be a pretty hateful and a bigoted approach to arguing.

    Though you invoke the term, ad hominum, there’s nothing fallacious about pointing out that your smear is insulting. Next time, you’ll be well advised to stick with words and comments you understand.

  102. This reminds me of a saying that I’ve heard from feminists in farm states:

    “Corn on the cob is nice, because the cob never shouts GET ME BEER, WOMAN!”

  103. Steve Evans says:

    jp/DKL/ECS/ETC., please take a moment to settle down. Dave, I’m deleting your last comment for obvious reasons.

  104. The female gender is imbalanced.

  105. DKL —

    Actually, it is spelled ad hominem. You’d be well advised to stick with words and comments you can spell.

    And actually, I didn’t compare you to segregationists. I mentioned them several paragraphs later, while making a point that had nothing to do with you. If you took the liberty of building on that point and comparing yourself to segregationists, I guess that means I struck nerve.

  106. Eric:

    You wrote: “In order to claim that there is a problem with social conditioning, one must still prove that there is a greater value to one activity than another. ”

    That’s not at all true, in my opinion. Most of the activities we participate in have very little value at all. But there is value in being able to make a meaningful choice about participating in those activities.

    Beyond that, there are also the signals we send regarding how we value individuals in our society. Think about the phrase “Separate but Equal.” In that vision of society, schools for black children would offer exactly the same value as schools for white children. But even if black schools and white schools could offer exactly the same value, even if they were exactly equal, there’s still a very big problem with that social vision.

    I think we all gain something when men and women grow up believing that they are as good at the same activities and that the same doors are open to them.

    And yes, I do think men would be better off if they didn’t grow up thinking that they are effeminate if they want to make a scrapbook.

  107. Steve: I’m going to go off topic and ask you to clarify your request that I settle down. In post 83, I said that certain previous posts called to mind concerns I had. I didn’t say anything insulting about the prior posters. Furthermore, to the extent that such an insult could be read, I apologized, in post 93.

    My post 83 resulted in a post (85) stating that I was engaged in “hateful, distorting bigotry.” Since then, I’ve done nothing more than suggest those words were misused (and that one word was misspelled).

    I had thought to add a few interesting points to the discussion. In fact, every one of my posts until 104 has attempted to add to the conversation. I figured that if people disagreed with them, they would explain why in an intelligent manner.

  108. jp, if you are truly concerned about my spelling, I’d be happy to take you under my wing as my proofreader.

  109. jp, your comment #97 illustrates neatly, I think, why these conversations are almost inevitably frustrating.

    First, I will assume your assertion is correct, that women abandon the practice of law in favor of something else at a greater rate than men do. ECSs comment 98 bears this out. I take it that you think this means there is something going on in the practice of law that is especially discouraging to women, and therefore ought to be corrected. If my assumption is false, please let me know, and ignore the rest of my comment.

    I think you are extrapolating too much from the data, and in the wrong direction. We can account for the disparity almost completely by understanding the way people experience the goad of financial necessity. Many women who graduate with a J.D. are not the primary breadwinners (to use an old-fashioned, but useful, description) for a family. Many men are. If your loved ones are depending on you to keep the wolf away from the door, it is much easier to overlook abusive bosses, crummy working conditions, and killer hours. I know three women who have law degrees. One is single, one is single with kids, and one is married. They all hate practicing law, but the only one who has kept her nose to the legal grindstone is the mom who is the sole means of support for her children. The single woman found something else less remunerative but more satisfying, and the married lawyer is now a SAHM.

    To sum up, what may appear at first glance to be an indication of subtle discrimination against women is actually evidence that most women in your example have more options than most men.

  110. Mark IV —

    Comment 97 wasn’t meant to imply that women are leaving law school because of discrimination. I simply wanted to suggest, in response to 95, that parity in the law school classroom wasn’t necessarily going to lead to more women involved in Mormon studies.

    I have a lot to say about the reasons why individuals choose to stay or to leave the practice of law. But its probably an essay best saved for another thread.

  111. jp (#105),
    So you think there should be parity in Mormon Studies, Law, Biology, Nursing, Politics and so on so that people will feel like they can be just as good at those things as people of the opposite sex? If people feeling like doors are open to them is the goal, isn’t there a critical mass of a certain gender in each field that can send that message without insisting on parity? Can’t a man see that he can be a nurse and feel like doors are open to him even if the ratio of male to female nurses falls substantially short of 1:1? If not, what price should we be willing to pay to fix the problem and send the message? If fewer qualified men than women are applying for nursing school, should we discriminate against women in favor of men in nursing school admissions to redress the disparity and send the message to little boys that they can be nurses, too? If fewer qualified women than men are applying for academic science jobs should we discriminate against men in favor of women just so that little girls can see that half of academic scientists are women? Or should we remedy the disparities over generations by changing the way we socialize our children? How do we direct that re-engineering of society? How do we make it so that boys and girls start wanting to be nurses and scientists, respectively, at higher rates?

  112. Tom,

    I guess I haven’t been doing a good job, but what I’ve been trying to argue is that the problem starts much earlier.

    Turn on a TV, walk through a toystore. Little boys are taught that they get to be doctors, while little girls are taught that they get to be nurses. Do I think that’s a problem? You bet I do.

    So no, you don’t rectify it by focusing on the nursing school admissions process. Just as I wouldn’t suggest that Dialogue should have a policy of ensuring that 50% of papers published are by women.

  113. jp: I agree that kids should be taught from a young age that their gender doesn’t determine their abilities. But I don’t have any problem with the Church’s upholding of certain gender roles and family models as ideal.

    Turn on a TV, walk through a toystore. Little boys are taught that they get to be doctors, while little girls are taught that they get to be nurses. Do I think that’s a problem? You bet I do.

    Your point is well-taken. Society does send a lot of messages that we need to shield our kids from, not the least of which is that girls are intellectually stunted relative to boys. Incidentally, if I had to choose either nursing or doctoring for my kids, I’d choose nursing for both my sons and (potential) daughters. So it does bug me that children are taught from a young age that it’s better to be a physician than a nurse.

  114. By the way, I think that Eric’s specific point—that the gender imbalance in Mormon Studies should only be considered a cause for concern if it is shown that the things that Mormon women are pursuing instead are considerably less valuable than Mormon Studies—is on the money.

  115. I agree with Tom and Mark IV, and I have yet to see a single argument advanced explaining why there should be an equal representation in Mormon Studies, scrapbooking, and comic books. The closest thing I’ve seen is jp’s attempt to associate segregationist philosophies with an open-minded approach to gender distribution; this, of course, is utterly preposterous.

    I also fail to see why there should be a uniform gender distribution among Mormon studies periodicals. So what if BYU Studies is more male dominated than Dialogue? Isn’t diversity a good thing? Must every Mormon studies periodical contain a minimum recommended daily allowance of women authors?

    Moreover, I think that it is especially ironic that jp has invoked the ghost of segregation, since I’ll venture to guess that the racial–or even the nationality–imbalance in Mormon studies is substantially more severe than whatever minor difference may arise with regard to gender. Given the utter indifference to this imbalance shown here by “concerned” feminists, I anxiously await the publication of an essay by a black Mormon woman entitled, “Ain’t I a Mormon Woman?”

  116. DKL,

    What is your theory as to why the gender parity advocates have the burden of proof here? That is, can you articulate a good reason why there should not be gender parity?

    “I also fail to see why there should be a uniform gender distribution among Mormon studies periodicals. So what if BYU Studies is more male dominated than Dialogue? Isn’t diversity a good thing? Must every Mormon studies periodical contain a minimum recommended daily allowance of women authors?”


    Nice try. But really, now. Taryn’s post demonstrates rather handily that the diversity in this field ranges from mostly-male-dominated to even-more-male-dominated.

    Thank you for the chuckle, though.

  117. DKL, I put up three sample arguments of the kind you call for over at T&S, and Kaimi added a fourth. I don’t know if they’re good arguments (and you’re always very picky about, like, logic and stuff, so you’ll probably inform me that they’re not arguments at all), but maybe it’s a start. I agree that such an argument needs to be made.

  118. JP, you’re right on – I was not trying to single out a particular comment in my remarks, just ineffectually trying to play peacemaker and keep everyone friendly. I meant no offense.

  119. Hey JP, email me!

  120. Taryn — I don’t think I have your email address?

  121. JP,

    Sorry, I thought it was linked on my name. .

  122. I just noticed that there are no fewer than 3 BCC permabloggers that go by J. This a substantially disproportionate representation of J-named authors. When I consider that I have never received a concrete invitation to blog at a major LDS-themed blog, I’m left to wonder, “Was I excluded from BCC because my name does not start with J?” Now I know what it feels like to have my work arbitrarily de-valued for reasons completely unrelated to its merit–this has never happened to me before. On behalf of all non-J-named authors, I beg you to consider what you’re doing to favor the J-named authors at our expense, and to desist immediately.

    Plus, I’m pretty sure that T&S has never banned a J-named author. I wonder what role my non-J-name played in my banning over there. Even if it didn’t play an overt role, I’m sure that some amount of social conditioning shaped the outcome.

    Does anyone have the number for J-named vs. non-J-named authors at Dialogue and BYU studies?

    Kaimi: the diversity in this field ranges from mostly-male-dominated to even-more-male-dominated.

    Now you’re the one not being serious. The size of Taryn’s sample does not justify that strong of a generalization. Isn’t Exponent II a mormon studies periodical?

    Rosalynde, I just saw your comment and your post. I’ll comment there soon enough.

  123. Steve: no offense taken. I appreciate your intent. In fact, DKW’s putdowns did get somewhat more subtle after your post, so I guess you have some authority around here. Keep up the good fight, keeping things orderly.

    I had hoped that DKW and others would actually want to engage with my ideas — either on this thread or on the others where I’ve posted. I had a nice exchange with Tom on this thread, but otherwise, I’ve been rather disappointed by the type of responses I’ve gotten.

    It was probably my fault for coming in as an outsider and expecting that people would actually want to engage in discussing ideas with me. So, my bad. But I don’t plan on coming back.

    If I’ve offended anyone in my posts, again, I apologize.

  124. Steve Evans says:

    jp, don’t go! I think that people here really do want to engage in discussing ideas with you; don’t let my ham-fisted admin passive-aggressive qualities throw you off BCC as a whole.

  125. jp: Little boys are taught that they get to be doctors, while little girls are taught that they get to be nurses.

    And yet, as Rosalynde already pointed out, females comprise a majority of incoming medical students nowadays. How could this have happened?

  126. jb: I had hoped that DKW and others would actually want to engage with my ideas.

    I didn’t see much in the way of ideas, just histrionics.

    jb: It was probably my fault for coming in as an outsider and expecting that people would actually want to engage in discussing ideas with me.

    Oh, please. I’ve been around forever (or at least for too long), and I attract vitriol like [SHIZ] attracts flies. If you got insulted your first time around, consider it a compliment.

  127. Taryn – Do you have access to copies of the Journal of Mormon History where you could review them in a similar fashion? It would be interesting to look at the gender balance issues at the MHA’s journal, as submissions (not book reviews, though) are reviewed on a “blind” basis – the JMH reviewers are not supposed to know who the authors are when they are reviewing articles for inclusion in the publication. (Due to the relatively small numbers of people publishing scholarly Mormon Studies, though, sometimes it’s not hard to figure out who wrote a particular article, however.)

    MHA reviewers make suggestions to the editor about whether they believe articles should be published or not, and whether articles need lots of revisions or not. The editor makes the final decision about publication and probably knows who wrote each article, but the JMH at least has an approach that aims at ridding itself of things like gender bias (and, for that matter, “well-known author” bias (i.e., Mike Quinn or Jill Derr wrote it so it must be well done)).

    I don’t know about BYU Studies, but I’m pretty sure Dialogue submissions are not read in this manner.

  128. Hmm. Sorry to have missed this lively discussion when it was happening in real time. I’ve been traveling and away from easy access to a computer for several days and now am too busy working on my . . . wait for it . . . Mormon Studies dissertation to read the whole thread. ;)

    Taryn, worry not. I was not trying to weasle the name of the person out of you. I asked in a hypothetical way because I trying to get a better sense of what your question really was so that I could answer it more specifically. The reasons why women might not be publishing at Signature, for example, are slightly different than the reasons they might not be publishing at University of Illinois Press.

    As we’ve discussed at length in the bloggernacle, there is still some concern about publishing with Sunstone, Dialogue, and Signature (three of major sources of “Mormon Studies” publishing). I think that women might especially feel that concern for a variety of good reasons that I won’t go into now.

    The reasons why women aren’t publishing “Mormon Studies” pieces in other venues (academic journals, university presses, etc.) may overlap with the reasons they don’t publish in Sunstone, etc., but I don’t think it’s exactly the same problem because other issues are involved. To produce quality work publishable by a university press one must have achieved a certain level of expertise and rigor as a scholar which usually requires extensive academic training and consistent concentrated time to research and write. Most Mormon women simply do not have such time or training. As long as Mormon women are encouraged from the pulpit to bear as many children as they can (whatever that might mean in practice) and stay home with them, the numbers of Mormon women publishing are unlikely to change.

    In other words, while a woman might have the time and ability to write an article for Sunstone, she is disinclined to do so. By contrast, a woman might be very interested in producing a manuscript for serious publication but be constrained in her time or training to pull it off.

    As is obvious, since “Mormon Studies”* is still obscure in the academy the number of non-LDS women publishing in the subfield remains insignificant.

    *I put “Mormon Studies” in scare quotes because the question of area studies in the field of religion is a hotly contested one. Many discredit the zoo model of religious studies, and I think rightly so.

  129. Kevin Barney says:

    LRC, both BYU Studies and Dialogue engage in blind peer review. At least, I have served as a blind peer reviewer for both journals on occasion. But as you rightly say, sometimes one can figure out who the author is, so the blind part doesn’t always hold.

  130. The real question (which has been sitting unasked for nearly 48 hours) is whether any of the “J” named permabloggers at BCC are the same “J” who wrote The Sensuous Woman.

  131. BYU Studies has a double blind review process.

  132. The problem that I have with double blind judgments is that they box God out of the equation. One of the great handicaps of omniscience is that it disqualifies participation in activities that requires double-blind participants. Personally, I’d like to see a more inclusive approach than this.

  133. We should just let J review it all.

  134. D. Fletcher says:

    Though not LDS, I think y’all might be interested in the story of Abigail Thomas, in her brand new memoir. She is my next-door neighbor, and her husband’s accident was close by our apartment building on Riverside Drive.

  135. Julie M. Smith says:

    “As long as Mormon women are encouraged from the pulpit to bear as many children as they can (whatever that might mean in practice) and stay home with them, the numbers of Mormon women publishing are unlikely to change.”

    You say that as if it were a bad thing :). I feel blessed to live in the Age of Pre-Shredded Cheese and Wrinkle-Free Dockers–a time when the demands of housekeeping are such that I don’t think it unreasonable to pursue another serious interest while mothering. In other words, I have it a heck of a lot easier than Juanita Brooks or even Laurel Thatcher Ulrich did. I had the shocking experience once of sitting down with an academic whose children were the same age as mine and realizing that I actually had more hours per week to devote to research than she did. I’ve posted before–

    –on the interplay of mothering and religious scholarship.


  1. […] In this excellent post, Rosalynde talks about the gender differences in subject material among Deseret Book writers. This renews the discussion brought up by Taryn Nelson-Seawright on the same difference existing in other Mormon outlets. Explanations abound for this phenomena, ranging from differing preferences to piggy discrimination, but most of them are sort of boring. Here’s one that is at least slightly more interesting: Suppose there are two kinds of writing, which we’ll call A and B. When men and women talk about A in an informed way, what they say is pretty much the same. An example would be a proof of the intermediate value theorem. The proof runs pretty much the same no matter the gender of the speaker. Type B things on the other hand, are much more subjective, and so tend to vary some by gender. Poetry or fiction tends to vary depending on the author’s personal characteristics, of which gender is a big one. What this means is that type A is unified, but type B can be divided into Bm and Bf, to be very simplistic. Thus there are now three kinds of writing, A, Bf, and Bm. […]

%d bloggers like this: