Are there gender differences in posting behavior in this community? #gender


Stan Garfield
 
Edited

I just reviewed 100 posts in this community made between August 16 and October 21, 2019. These are posts #6610 through #6709. I selected this period because it was before a recent flurry of KMWworld-related threads.

Of these 100 posts, 80 were made by men and 20 by women.  This raises questions about why there is such a difference in the posting frequencies.

To help us all better understand this phenomenon, I would like to ask that the following questions be answered only by the women of the SIKM Leaders Community. I will ask the men to respond later, but for now, please let the women exclusively reply.

  1. What factors influence whether or not you post or reply in this community?
  2. Do you think there are any fundamental differences in the way men and women choose to post and reply?
  3. Do you consider the imbalance of posts by gender to be a problem? If so, why? If not, why not?
  4. What, if anything, can be done to increase the percentage of posts made by women?
  5. What articles, books, posts, and research do you think are relevant to this discussion?
Searching for articles, I found several. Here is one example from 

Gender differences in participation

: "we find significant gender gaps in activity: women are more likely to ask questions, while men provide more answers"

Thanks for any insights you can provide. I appreciate your help.

Regards,
Stan


Murray Jennex
 

Stan, one question on this, what percentage of sikm is women?  Before saying 20% is low you should consider if its statistically significant low.  You may also want to take out the dominant posters (I note that there are 5-8 people who post all the time with Nancy Dixon being the female I notice posting often and guys like Randihar, Al, Mat, and a couple others being the guys most posting).  I actually think what you are seeing is a social network focused on a couple of dominant nodes.....murray


-----Original Message-----
From: Stan Garfield <stangarfield@...>
To: SIKM <SIKM@groups.io>
Sent: Mon, Nov 11, 2019 10:50 am
Subject: [SIKM] Are there gender differences in posting behavior in this community?

I just reviewed 100 posts in this community made between August 16 and October 21, 2019. These are posts #6610 through #6709. I selected this period because it was before a recent flurry of KMWworld-related threads.

Of these 100 posts, 80 were made by men and 20 by women.  This raises questions about why there is such a difference in the posting frequencies.

To help us all better understand this phenomenon, I would like to ask that the following questions be answered only by the women of the SIKM Leaders Community. I will ask the men to respond later, but for now, please let the women exclusively reply.

  1. What factors influence whether or not you post or reply in this community?
  2. Do you think there are any fundamental differences in the way men and women choose to post and reply?
  3. Do you consider the imbalance of posts by gender to be a problem? If so, why? If not, why not?
  4. What, if anything, can be done to increase the percentage of posts made by women?
  5. What articles, books, posts, and research do you think are relevant to this discussion?
Searching for articles, I found several. Here is one example from 

Gender differences in participation

: "we find significant gender gaps in activity: women are more likely to ask questions, while men provide more answers"

Thanks for any insights you can provide. I appreciate your help.

Regards,
Stan


Susan Ostreicher
 

Stan, thank you for starting this discussion. There's no need to answer right away, but I'd be curious to know what made you decide to look at the statistics. I think elements of this could be relevant not just to gender but to any under-represented group.

It's hard to say exactly what the gender split is among SIKM members, because that's not part of the user profile. But looking at the full directory and making some guesses based on first name, it seems like members are around 55% men and 45% women... not evenly split, but also not enough to explain an 80/20 disparity.

Also, the article you cited notes that women are more likely to ask questions. I think posts #6610 through #6709 include both questions and answers, so maybe it would be interesting to look at these separately, if there's a convenient way to do that. 

To respond to your questions.... it's impossible to speak for a group, so I'll just stick to my own experience and hope that others chime in too. 

  1. What factors influence whether or not you post or reply in this community?
    I've felt more comfortable posting and replying after I met members of the group in person, both at KM World and locally. (This is also hard to quantify, but could there maybe be more "real life" connections among the men in the group?) 
  2. Do you think there are any fundamental differences in the way men and women choose to post and reply?
  3. Do you consider the imbalance of posts by gender to be a problem? If so, why? If not, why not?
    It's an opportunity to improve, to the extent that it suggests some members might be less comfortable joining a discussion. I don't think having more women posting is a helpful goal in itself. But ensuring that no one feels uncomfortable is definitely worthwhile. 
  4. What, if anything, can be done to increase the percentage of posts made by women?
    Again, this speaks only to my own experience. I think it can be hard to join a discussion when you're not sure who you're talking to, and what their background or perspective might be. Having a directory that all members can view is a step in the right direction, and I think this is one advantage of groups.io over yahoo... though it depends on people making their profiles visible. 

    Also, there was a presentation at KM World last week about using anonymous polls (specifically on MeetingSphere) to understand how a group really feels about an issue. Obviously a poll isn't a substitute for discussion, but groups.io does have a poll function, and in some cases that could be another tactic for giving more people a voice. 
  5. What articles, books, posts, and research do you think are relevant to this discussion?
    I came across this by Googling "gender in online discussion": Discourse, gender, and online forums. It's not a scholarly article, just a discussion in a community something like ours, but it has some suggestions like: 
    • "Publicly call out and act upon bad behaviour wherever you see it, without needing to have anyone else make a complaint about it beforehand."
    • "Avoid a mode of discussion that degenerates into point-scoring, seeing who “wins”, rather than focusing on connecting and working towards a positive outcome."
I've been in the group for 3 years, and I can't remember any instances of "bad" behavior. But online debate gets passionate sometimes...  people have strong opinions, and nuances don't always come through online. Last week at KM World, Nancy Dixon talked in her workshop about setting "rules of engagement" for a team. A group of 800+ people who don't know each other might not really be a "team", but I wonder if something like that could be useful here? 


Aprill Allen
 

Hi Stan,

Thanks for asking.
  • What factors influence whether or not you post or reply in this community?
Timeliness - I'm not looking at the group all the time. So, if it's been too long since it was posted, I probably won't reply.
Questions - If the post is a question or an ask for help, I'll reply if I have the answer or think my comment will add some other value.
Discussions - Depends on my interest in the topic being discussed. If it's too much in the weeds, I probably won't get into it. 

  • Do you think there are any fundamental differences in the way men and women choose to post and reply?
  •  
I haven't done any rudimentary analysis. I could speculate, but I'd rather not.
  •  
  • Do you consider the imbalance of posts by gender to be a problem? If so, why? If not, why not?
  •  
I haven't thought about it, until now, but so far, I haven't been a big participant because i found the community has, in the past, got into academic debates over definitions. Perhaps that partly answers this question.

  •  
  • What, if anything, can be done to increase the percentage of posts made by women?
  •  
I think sharing community management across a team would provide an opportunity to grow diversity of participation in several dimensions. 
  •  
  • What articles, books, posts, and research do you think are relevant to this discussion?
  •  

All the conversation about diversity and inclusion, in general, can be helpful.
https://techinclusion.co/


Laurence Lock Lee
 

I apologise in advance if this is diverting the conversation from your intent Stan, but recently we did a comprehensive social network analysis on gender diversity in a large Yammer network where the genders were nearly a 50/50 split with a total of nearly 8,000 participating....we found that women were better networkers in virtually every respect ... hence you are right to be concerned.

Some details can be found in this Journal article published with Stanford university 


rgds

Laurence Lock Lee



Miguel Cornejo
 

Stan, I’d start with membership before analyzing participation :-).

Best,

Miguel

Enviado desde mi iPhone

El 11 nov 2019, a las 19:50, Stan Garfield <stangarfield@...> escribió:

I just reviewed 100 posts in this community made between August 16 and October 21, 2019. These are posts #6610 through #6709. I selected this period because it was before a recent flurry of KMWworld-related threads.

Of these 100 posts, 80 were made by men and 20 by women.  This raises questions about why there is such a difference in the posting frequencies.

To help us all better understand this phenomenon, I would like to ask that the following questions be answered only by the women of the SIKM Leaders Community. I will ask the men to respond later, but for now, please let the women exclusively reply.

  1. What factors influence whether or not you post or reply in this community?
  2. Do you think there are any fundamental differences in the way men and women choose to post and reply?
  3. Do you consider the imbalance of posts by gender to be a problem? If so, why? If not, why not?
  4. What, if anything, can be done to increase the percentage of posts made by women?
  5. What articles, books, posts, and research do you think are relevant to this discussion?
Searching for articles, I found several. Here is one example from 

Gender differences in participation

: "we find significant gender gaps in activity: women are more likely to ask questions, while men provide more answers"

Thanks for any insights you can provide. I appreciate your help.

Regards,
Stan


Nancy White
 

Wow, this can be a sensitive one to wade in there, right along with the conversation about meetings where it is all men up on the podium, or all white people, or ... etc. We have to dig deep into our own privilege (or lack of it), biases, assumptions and experiences. It resonates deeply with the conversation about why so many events (panels, talks, leadership) default to (White) men. 

And I want to exercise care in my response. So this one is general first, not to your specifics, Stan. I'll save that. But this is Super interesting to me.

I think one thing that already shows up is that Stan asked only women to respond and asked the men to wait until later. Three  men jumped in anyway. Men who I bet we all enjoy and appreciate their contributions. They brought good stuff, but he said women first please. What made it difficult to wait? What made it ok not to wait?  Is what we have to say more important than the direct request made of us? Now think of all the times where there was no request to wait. Do we consider the value of waiting?

If we explore women's experiences in F2F rooms, men will often talk first, talk over women, listen more closely to other men, repeat the comments made by women as if they were never made, etc. (Guys, this is real!) Many of us women are so used to it we ignore it. Some of us bristle. Some of us actively set up ways to shift this dynamic. This is deeply rooted cultural behavior. AND, this is not just done by men, by the way (I have a tendency to do it). People who have visible or invisible power or authority, verbal quickness, etc. dominate verbal interactions, often with no self awareness. But men do it more often than women. Just start watching (and usually that means don't talk!!!)

 This happens online too.

I think if we dig into the research across different contexts,  we'll find data that show both gender and cultural aspects to email list participation. I wish I had it on hand. (I caught myself, I almost APOLOGIZED for not having it - again, this is a common female response pattern in my culture.) But here are a few with a quick search (like some of the other responders, we see it is easy to start learning):

What I can do,  like Susan,  is speak from my experience. Facilitating online since 1997, my anecdotal experience is that the following things all impact participation and play into gender participation (not a single factor at play):
  • the make up of the group  (i.e all women groups often engage differently than mixed gender groups, % of gender or other key identifiers), 
  • the cultural background and the elements that encourage people to speak up even if their culture is more hierarchical or values "not showing off" especially if you are a woman or a junior member, 
  • political issues (including safety) - for some women, showing up publicly on some topics actually carries risk. Yup! 
  • Professional issues or focus of the group. If I'm in a single profession group, gender tends to trump national culture because many of us are acculturated to "show up" as a professional. If I'm in a multicultural group, the chances that a lower ranking man or woman from a male dominated culture will speak first, or speak often are not very high, but the risk is higher for women! If I'm in a very broad, general-topic-focused list, the dynamics and risk of looking dumb are gentler and so people can wade in a bit more easily.
  • Size of group (the larger the group, the higher likelihood men will dominate in terms of # of interactions in a fairly even M/F mix)
  • The effect of responses by people who are online a lot so respond frequently. If they express a lot of authority, fewer of any gender may wade into the conversation. If they include questions and invitation to others rather than just stating their views, others wade in. If that wait sometimes and not rush to fill the void, new voices can more easily come in. 
  • The effect of style/voice. People who "sound" (yeah, we are reading with no tone) like they think their view is THE view can turn off people. I think there is a gender aspect to this. 
  • the effect in a closed group of people who are helpful by nature (male or female), people who have great enthusiasm and the fact that in an email list environment it is difficult to know how others are reacting to our responses. (Hm, yes, I'm wondering how others are reacting to my response right now!)  We may perceive ourselves as generous contributors. AND are we dominators?
  • relative or actual anonymity of members  (Have you ever been in a fully non gendered anonymous online conversation? Try it. It feels very different!) 
  • the norms of how people respond (i.e. ranging from "everything is always expressed with authority" to tentative, polite suggestions couched in deference.)
Now, from my personal experience as a fairly extroverted, American woman with some professional standing, I barely post at all anymore on this list (and have never been super active poster, even while I read a lot). Why? 
  • My own gender role. I'm busy both with work and non work related issues (anyone here raising their grandkids? Yup, women often have primary family responsibilities that make reading and responding to their own professional fora challenging. Not true in every culture, but it is still the dominant experience of women across the world. For example, some of my male colleagues enjoy reading and responding to email lists after dinner. I have two kids to put to bed, then do my work!). 
  • My lack of need to be visible and work on my reputation. There are plenty of smart people here to answer questions so there is not a need I sense to respond to - and I really DO like to be helpful. 
  • Relevance (which has nothing to do with gender!) and resources. I'm working less directly in KM so if I had a question, I'd be more likely to go directly to someone in my network versus post on the list (but I have no fear of not knowing in public, and that is not true for everyone!) 
  • Habituation. On other lists, I confess I check out when the same people answer on a list (or worse, pontificate, etc... which may just be my read of their words without voice and I may be ALL WRONG!) I lean in when someone new asks or answers. I want to know who they are. Is that the norm? I have no idea. But I'm looking at the network aspect (Yup, Lawrence!) I AM looking for women's voices. I AM looking for new voices. 
  • Just tired of it.  There are people in our field who have a very strong style and way of responding. I have grown to dislike that style enough to avoid engaging in these conversations, even if I deeply value of the content. In my experience with these people is that they are almost always men. My perception of it is their need to be right, to be a central authority etc. The alpha -- yup - alpha male. I used to challenge it. I just ignore this behavior now. I've run out of energy.

When I was deeply involved in the day to day of KM4Dev online conversations, I caught myself, in my deeply rooted values of wanting to be HELPFUL (often a gender influenced stance) of posting too much, too fast, and too often (I'm doing the TOO MUCH here. I recognize it). I began to understand that this crowded out the leadership, voice and visibility of others. So I made myself do things like wait 24 hours to respond. To invite others to respond via back channel who I knew had brilliant things to contribute. In other words, instead of BEING the voice, to FACILITATE the voiceS. Stan does that here from my perception. But from my experience, not a lot of men do it as a regular practice. We are deeply acculturated into our roles, for better or for worse. I face this same deep challenge trying to work on my white privilege here in the US, and the deeply rooted racism that sits beneath my national culture. The fact that I have unconsciously propagated racist behavior appalls me. And yet, there it is. Happens with gender too. This is deep, personal and collective work. And often we say - wait, that is not what this list/group/community is about. It is about KM, or this or that. Does that excuse us from looking at the deeper issues?

Is this a problem? Maybe not for SIKM, but it sure is for what is happening in my context, and I'd bet real money it is most everywhere. So why not start everywhere, now, with little steps. How do we make space for and bring in more voices? How do we pay attention to the value that adds? How will this influence our behavior going forward?

Sorry for my rant. This is the problem of writing at 5:30 am with a head cold!

Nancy


On Tue, Nov 12, 2019 at 5:22 AM Miguel Cornejo <miguel@...> wrote:
Stan, I’d start with membership before analyzing participation :-).

Best,

Miguel

Enviado desde mi iPhone

El 11 nov 2019, a las 19:50, Stan Garfield <stangarfield@...> escribió:

I just reviewed 100 posts in this community made between August 16 and October 21, 2019. These are posts #6610 through #6709. I selected this period because it was before a recent flurry of KMWworld-related threads.

Of these 100 posts, 80 were made by men and 20 by women.  This raises questions about why there is such a difference in the posting frequencies.

To help us all better understand this phenomenon, I would like to ask that the following questions be answered only by the women of the SIKM Leaders Community. I will ask the men to respond later, but for now, please let the women exclusively reply.

  1. What factors influence whether or not you post or reply in this community?
  2. Do you think there are any fundamental differences in the way men and women choose to post and reply?
  3. Do you consider the imbalance of posts by gender to be a problem? If so, why? If not, why not?
  4. What, if anything, can be done to increase the percentage of posts made by women?
  5. What articles, books, posts, and research do you think are relevant to this discussion?
Searching for articles, I found several. Here is one example from 

Gender differences in participation

: "we find significant gender gaps in activity: women are more likely to ask questions, while men provide more answers"

Thanks for any insights you can provide. I appreciate your help.

Regards,
Stan


Carol H. Tucker
 

Nancy hit the nail on the head.  I get weary of being talked over, my talking points being co-opted, and lack the energy to continue combating the trend when I don't have to.

So I lurk and read

thanx
Carol
-- 
Carol H. Tucker

"I only care about the words that flutter from your mind. They are the only thing you truly own. The only thing I will remember you by. I will not fall in love with your bones and skin. I will not fall in love with the places you have been. I will not fall in love with anything but the words that flutter from your Extraordinary Mind."
~ Andre Jordan


Kristen Booker
 

Thanks for thinking about this, Stan, and thanks for such an excellent response, Nancy. 


  • What factors influence whether or not you post or reply in this community?
I don't post in this community as I don't feel I have the experience or knowledge to contribute. I'm very much lurking for that reason. The communities in which I post confidently and frequently happen to be all female. 
  • Do you think there are any fundamental differences in the way men and women choose to post and reply?
Yes. I think there are some participants who are, quicker, more authoritative in their responses, and less likely to be encouraging of different perspectives or opinions, and that they tend to be male. 
  • Do you consider the imbalance of posts by gender to be a problem? If so, why? If not, why not?
Yes, because diversity of opinions and perspectives should give us a deeper understanding of any topic. 
  • What, if anything, can be done to increase the percentage of posts made by women?
Make it an all female group? (just kidding!). I think by asking the questions you have you've already improved this month's statistics! 
  • What articles, books, posts, and research do you think are relevant to this discussion?
I'd have to Google, and don't have time before I get breakfast on the table for the children. 

Kristen

Sent from mobile device


On Wed, 13 Nov. 2019, 1:35 am Carol H. Tucker, <beladona@...> wrote:
Nancy hit the nail on the head.  I get weary of being talked over, my talking points being co-opted, and lack the energy to continue combating the trend when I don't have to.

So I lurk and read

thanx
Carol
-- 
Carol H. Tucker

"I only care about the words that flutter from your mind. They are the only thing you truly own. The only thing I will remember you by. I will not fall in love with your bones and skin. I will not fall in love with the places you have been. I will not fall in love with anything but the words that flutter from your Extraordinary Mind."
~ Andre Jordan


Stan Garfield
 

I wish to thank all of the women who have responded so far. Please continue to do so. Here is a private reply sent to me for which I received approval to post without the person's name.

Hi Stan:
 
Thank you for your observant questions. My answers:
 
  1. What factors influence whether or not you post or reply in this community?

    I have identified a few factors contributing to whether I post or not:
  • if I have time to read the questions as they come out
  • if I think I have something new to contribute. If I don't, I might just read along
  • I need a bit of time to think about the question and ponder before responding. In this group, by that time there are 10-30 responses to the question, and it take time to read through them. Usually by that time what I was going to say has been covered. 
  •  it can be intimidating with so many who are experts on a topic talking, I sometimes wonder what I could possibly have to say that would be of value. 
  • A lot of times the questions are about what others are doing in their organizations. As an independent consultant, I usually can't answer those types of questions. 
  • A lot of my client work has to be kept confidential. I try to extrapolate thoughts when I can, but often I can't share specific examples. 
  1. Do you think there are any fundamental differences in the way men and women choose to post and reply?
    Possibly women will reach out to one or a few people they know well when they have something to solve. With replying, women tend to only reply if they think they can make a contribution not already being made. 

    For me, the times I have responded to a question I have invariably had someone (usually the same man) jump in to respond to me within a few minutes. At the beginning of the year I challenged myself to contribute more to the discussion. But I found the same fellow responding and downplaying my posts. I watched over time as he did that to every woman who responded, but rarely did it to men. So that made me less than enthusiastic to participate. I shouldn't have let it dissuade me, but I guess it happened on a subconscious level. I'm pretty sure if you asked him he wouldn't realize he had done it. 

  2. Do you consider the imbalance of posts by gender to be a problem? If so, why? If not, why not?
    I think so. It's part of a larger problem with women feeling less confident and having a more difficult time making a place for themselves at the table. Because we have been raised in the same patriarchal society, as women we are not always aware it is happening. 

    My female independent consultant friends noticed a while back that our male independent consultant friends tend to call on one another to work on new projects together, whereas women tend to include both men and women. We see the guys promoting each other and getting further ahead faster.

    Also, project proposals led by men are more likely to be accepted than those led by women. Some of my female friends have put in similar proposals with them in the lead and also with male colleagues in the lead, and they have noted the proposals from men bring in a bigger fee and are questioned less. 

    The bias runs deep and has long-term negative effects in our work and organizations. 

  3. What, if anything, can be done to increase the percentage of posts made by women?
    Not sure. Maybe call out guys who down-play or "mansplain" things to women, especially if they are not doing the same to men. Invite women specifically to pose questions/lead discussions.

  4. What articles, books, posts, and research do you think are relevant to this discussion?
    Sheryl Sandberg's book Lean In
    although be aware she is a white woman of privilege and has had a backlash because she doesn't include alternative perspectives to her own. 

    I noticed this tie-in website with lots of content:
     https://leanin.org/
Thank you for asking these questions, Stan. I appreciate it.


Madelyn Blair
 

Stan,

I appreciate that you asked the question. My participation in the group is to read at times. I stopped posting altogether — okay, until now. 

1. Factors — posts are entirely too long. When I read email, I expect to know the subject from the subject line, and I expect the main point to be made in the first 2 paragraphs. It’s an efficient way of communicating. A long post is really a paper and should be treated as such. 

2. Differences — absolutely. I have done extensive research on gender differences, and they play out in this group. The key difference is that women tend to communicate directly, get to the point, and stop. Men tend to explain, defend and explain. That is a generalization, but a consistent one found is the literature. There are other differences, but this is the one that gets in my way when I try to read these missives. 
 
3. Imbalance — this is hard to answer without knowing the population of members by gender — and perhaps members by gender in the field.

4. Increase the percentage — I can only answer in relation to myself. I would engage in the discussion if emails were very focused and organized for efficient reading. 

5. References — there is an enormous library of relevant literature. I would search on gender, communication, communities of practice, groups, networking. 

Again, thanks for asking, Stan. 

Madelyn

MADELYN BLAIR, PHD
Author/ Speaker/ Resilience Advisor
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On Nov 12, 2019, at 9:30 AM, Nancy White <nancy.white@...> wrote:

To help us all better understand this phenomenon, I would like to ask that the following questions be answered only by the women of the SIKM Leaders Community. I will ask the men to respond later, but for now, please let the women exclusively reply.

  1. What factors influence whether or not you post or reply in this community?
  2. Do you think there are any fundamental differences in the way men and women choose to post and reply?
  3. Do you consider the imbalance of posts by gender to be a problem? If so, why? If not, why not?
  4. What, if anything, can be done to increase the percentage of posts made by women?
  5. What articles, books, posts, and research do you think are relevant to this discussion?


Cindy Young
 

Good evening, Stan,

1.       What factors influence whether or not you post or reply in this community?

Even though I have been in KM for a while now, I have only been with the SIKM community for about a month and have had nothing to say yet.

 

2.       Do you think there are any fundamental differences in the way men and women choose to post and reply?

 

Yes. Like some of the other ladies have commented, I also tend to just get to the point and ask a question, answer a question, or provide my input.


3.       Do you consider the imbalance of posts by gender to be a problem? If so, why? If not, why not?

I think it depends on the topic in that I only respond if I feel I can contribute positively to the topic and speak at a professional level on it.

4.       What, if anything, can be done to increase the percentage of posts made by women?

Not sure. Each group I have been in has been different. I think it would depend on the topic and the goal of the discussion.

5.       What articles, books, posts, and research do you think are relevant to this discussion?

I don’t know. My research has been on knowledge management, firm performance process excellence, organizational culture, and generational communications, but I haven’t focused on communications between the genders.

Regards,

Cindy

Dr. Cindy Young, PMP, LSS MBB, CMQ/OE

On Tue, Nov 12, 2019 at 3:52 PM Stan Garfield <stangarfield@...> wrote:
I wish to thank all of the women who have responded so far. Please continue to do so. Here is a private reply sent to me for which I received approval to post without the person's name.

Hi Stan:
 
Thank you for your observant questions. My answers:
 
  1. What factors influence whether or not you post or reply in this community?

    I have identified a few factors contributing to whether I post or not:
  • if I have time to read the questions as they come out
  • if I think I have something new to contribute. If I don't, I might just read along
  • I need a bit of time to think about the question and ponder before responding. In this group, by that time there are 10-30 responses to the question, and it take time to read through them. Usually by that time what I was going to say has been covered. 
  •  it can be intimidating with so many who are experts on a topic talking, I sometimes wonder what I could possibly have to say that would be of value. 
  • A lot of times the questions are about what others are doing in their organizations. As an independent consultant, I usually can't answer those types of questions. 
  • A lot of my client work has to be kept confidential. I try to extrapolate thoughts when I can, but often I can't share specific examples. 
  1. Do you think there are any fundamental differences in the way men and women choose to post and reply?
    Possibly women will reach out to one or a few people they know well when they have something to solve. With replying, women tend to only reply if they think they can make a contribution not already being made. 

    For me, the times I have responded to a question I have invariably had someone (usually the same man) jump in to respond to me within a few minutes. At the beginning of the year I challenged myself to contribute more to the discussion. But I found the same fellow responding and downplaying my posts. I watched over time as he did that to every woman who responded, but rarely did it to men. So that made me less than enthusiastic to participate. I shouldn't have let it dissuade me, but I guess it happened on a subconscious level. I'm pretty sure if you asked him he wouldn't realize he had done it. 

  2. Do you consider the imbalance of posts by gender to be a problem? If so, why? If not, why not?
    I think so. It's part of a larger problem with women feeling less confident and having a more difficult time making a place for themselves at the table. Because we have been raised in the same patriarchal society, as women we are not always aware it is happening. 

    My female independent consultant friends noticed a while back that our male independent consultant friends tend to call on one another to work on new projects together, whereas women tend to include both men and women. We see the guys promoting each other and getting further ahead faster.

    Also, project proposals led by men are more likely to be accepted than those led by women. Some of my female friends have put in similar proposals with them in the lead and also with male colleagues in the lead, and they have noted the proposals from men bring in a bigger fee and are questioned less. 

    The bias runs deep and has long-term negative effects in our work and organizations. 

  3. What, if anything, can be done to increase the percentage of posts made by women?
    Not sure. Maybe call out guys who down-play or "mansplain" things to women, especially if they are not doing the same to men. Invite women specifically to pose questions/lead discussions.

  4. What articles, books, posts, and research do you think are relevant to this discussion?
    Sheryl Sandberg's book Lean In
    although be aware she is a white woman of privilege and has had a backlash because she doesn't include alternative perspectives to her own. 

    I noticed this tie-in website with lots of content:
     https://leanin.org/
Thank you for asking these questions, Stan. I appreciate it.


Karla Phlypo
 

Hi Stan,
It’s been a while since I have responded and that is mostly due to the change in my focus from industry to education.  For me I tend to read responses because those responses help me see where there are holes in our education at the graduate level.  

  • What factors influence whether or not you post or reply in this community?
If there are things that I have direct knowledge about then I tend or would tend to post my experience with the topic. Otherwise I tend to read and lurk so to speak.
  • Do you think there are any fundamental differences in the way men and women choose to post and reply?
Yes. I think that in my experience with any kind of discussion group whether it is this one or others in some cases females tend to allow for differences of opinion without making anyone feel wrong.  So it important especially in this day and age to check your ego at the door. To be open enough to hear out other perspectives that you may not necessarily agree with context is extremely important and I think that we forget about context a lot.
  • Do you consider the imbalance of posts by gender to be a problem? If so, why? If not, why not?
I would have to say maybe the imbalance in genders causes a problem. I think that the cognitive diversity is really what we need to be focusing on and less about the gender of who we are I think how we think about things is probably more profound a diversity point than how we look but that’s just my opinion.
  • What, if anything, can be done to increase the percentage of posts made by women?
Perhaps asking questions in a way that encourages context and encourages cognitive diversity as opposed to looking for looking for those opportunities to hear diverse perspectives as opposed to finding out an answer to a question.  I’m not sure if I’m making myself clear sorry about it it’s early in the morning.
  • What articles, books, posts, and research do you think are relevant to this discussion?  There is so much that could be shared I found a few that discusses maybe not as closely as we would like what you are asking about but it does begin to consider the differences in the way Females and Males interact and or display cognitive diversity.  Can you tell this is of interest to me?  I have started studying this topic from the perspective of innovation and KM is always present in my mind.  So how could you structure the questions to consider the context, and cognitive diversity?  Just food for thought.
Perryman, A. A., Fernando, G. D., & Tripathy, A. (2016). Do gender differences persist? An examination of gender diversity on firm performance, risk, and executive compensation. Journal of Business Research, 69(2), 579–586. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2015.05.013

Buder, J., Schwind, C., Rudat, A., & Bodemer, D. (2015). Selective reading of large online forum discussions: The impact of rating visualizations on navigation and learning. Computers in Human Behavior, 44, 191–201. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2014.11.043 (just found this one as interesting)

Ebrahimi, A., Faghih, E., & Dabir-Moghaddam, M. (2017). Student perceptions of effective discussion in online forums: A case study of pre-service teachers. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 54(5), 467–475. https://doi.org/10.1080/14703297.2016.1143858 ( a little off topic but there were some good insights to differences in the context of education) 

Kind regards,
Karla Phlypo Ph.D.
Knowledge and Innovation Sciences Inc.
248.394.0510

On Nov 12, 2019, at 3:52 PM, Stan Garfield <stangarfield@...> wrote:

I wish to thank all of the women who have responded so far. Please continue to do so. Here is a private reply sent to me for which I received approval to post without the person's name.

Hi Stan:
 
Thank you for your observant questions. My answers:
 
  1. What factors influence whether or not you post or reply in this community?

    I have identified a few factors contributing to whether I post or not:
  • if I have time to read the questions as they come out
  • if I think I have something new to contribute. If I don't, I might just read along
  • I need a bit of time to think about the question and ponder before responding. In this group, by that time there are 10-30 responses to the question, and it take time to read through them. Usually by that time what I was going to say has been covered. 
  •  it can be intimidating with so many who are experts on a topic talking, I sometimes wonder what I could possibly have to say that would be of value. 
  • A lot of times the questions are about what others are doing in their organizations. As an independent consultant, I usually can't answer those types of questions. 
  • A lot of my client work has to be kept confidential. I try to extrapolate thoughts when I can, but often I can't share specific examples. 
  1. Do you think there are any fundamental differences in the way men and women choose to post and reply?
    Possibly women will reach out to one or a few people they know well when they have something to solve. With replying, women tend to only reply if they think they can make a contribution not already being made. 

    For me, the times I have responded to a question I have invariably had someone (usually the same man) jump in to respond to me within a few minutes. At the beginning of the year I challenged myself to contribute more to the discussion. But I found the same fellow responding and downplaying my posts. I watched over time as he did that to every woman who responded, but rarely did it to men. So that made me less than enthusiastic to participate. I shouldn't have let it dissuade me, but I guess it happened on a subconscious level. I'm pretty sure if you asked him he wouldn't realize he had done it. 

  2. Do you consider the imbalance of posts by gender to be a problem? If so, why? If not, why not?
    I think so. It's part of a larger problem with women feeling less confident and having a more difficult time making a place for themselves at the table. Because we have been raised in the same patriarchal society, as women we are not always aware it is happening. 

    My female independent consultant friends noticed a while back that our male independent consultant friends tend to call on one another to work on new projects together, whereas women tend to include both men and women. We see the guys promoting each other and getting further ahead faster.

    Also, project proposals led by men are more likely to be accepted than those led by women. Some of my female friends have put in similar proposals with them in the lead and also with male colleagues in the lead, and they have noted the proposals from men bring in a bigger fee and are questioned less. 

    The bias runs deep and has long-term negative effects in our work and organizations. 

  3. What, if anything, can be done to increase the percentage of posts made by women?
    Not sure. Maybe call out guys who down-play or "mansplain" things to women, especially if they are not doing the same to men. Invite women specifically to pose questions/lead discussions.

  4. What articles, books, posts, and research do you think are relevant to this discussion?
    Sheryl Sandberg's book Lean In
    although be aware she is a white woman of privilege and has had a backlash because she doesn't include alternative perspectives to her own. 

    I noticed this tie-in website with lots of content:
     https://leanin.org/
Thank you for asking these questions, Stan. I appreciate it.


Nancy Dixon
 

To all:

I initiated this topic with Stan before the KM World dinner, expressing my concerns about how the community had changed and requesting that we have a public discussion at the dinner to think together about how we would like for the community to function.  That did not seem feasible, so at the dinner Kate Pugh and I cornered Stan for a brief discussion.  We were trying to illustrate our concerns about “selling”; about a few “authoritative voices” and about “lack of diversity and respect.” Stan is all about evidence, so when he challenged us with what data we had to support our concerns, we thought of the lack of women’s voices as one possible statistic. It was clearly the one Stan heard the loudest – thus his very propitious question to the community.

I’ve been a member of the community for over 10 years. Yet over the last year found myself reading the posts less often and almost never responding.  Because of my long association with SIKM and because I valued the community I was sad about this and puzzled about why I seemed to be “dropping out.”

What I thought was, and initially emailed Stan about before the conference, was:

§  I saw a decrease in questions to the community

§  When questions were asked they were typically answered by members who wanted to sell the question asker their services.

§  It seemed to me that many of the questions did not have enough context to be able to answer in a useful way.  For me, unless I know more about the context of the asker’s practice, it is difficult to offer advice. So I was hoping that the community might want to engage more in discussion on a question rather than individuals offering quick advice. 

§  Many of the wise voices from SIKM’s past seemed absent from the current discussions.

§  Notably, the gender issue was not one in the top of my mind, but now, having heard from others, I  agree it should have been.

I was concerned that if my own participation was declining it might be true of others as well. So hoped the community as a whole might have a conversation about what we liked about SIKM currently and what we might want to change.  And as Susan mentioned, if we might want to puzzle together about some guidelines related to how we want to engage each other in the community.   

So my goal was to have a community conversation, one much broader, but including gender, about how we as a community wanted to engage each other. I would still like that to happen. Kate suggests we might have a small group gather on Zoom to discuss community parameters (e.g. goals, theory of change, participation norms, operating model, facilitation, even metrics). Then we might have an open meeting on Meeting Sphere or some other app that supports both brainstorming and discussion.

All this seems particularly important now that so many new people are entering the field and SiKM is their only place to go to ask questions from an unbiased group.

Thanks to all of you for taking the time to provide your thoughtful responses. It really shows me that people care about this community. And a special thanks to Stan, who heard our  concern and put it out there for others to talk about.  He is a champion in our community. Without his unfailing persistence and his love of SKIM, we would not have this community nor this important discussion. 

Nancy

Nancy M Dixon


Working to increase virtual team collaboration

 

On Nov 11, 2019, at 12:50 PM, Stan Garfield via Groups.Io <stangarfield@...> wrote:

I just reviewed 100 posts in this community made between August 16 and October 21, 2019. These are posts #6610 through #6709. I selected this period because it was before a recent flurry of KMWworld-related threads.

Of these 100 posts, 80 were made by men and 20 by women.  This raises questions about why there is such a difference in the posting frequencies.

To help us all better understand this phenomenon, I would like to ask that the following questions be answered only by the women of the SIKM Leaders Community. I will ask the men to respond later, but for now, please let the women exclusively reply.

  1. What factors influence whether or not you post or reply in this community?
  2. Do you think there are any fundamental differences in the way men and women choose to post and reply?
  3. Do you consider the imbalance of posts by gender to be a problem? If so, why? If not, why not?
  4. What, if anything, can be done to increase the percentage of posts made by women?
  5. What articles, books, posts, and research do you think are relevant to this discussion?
Searching for articles, I found several. Here is one example from 

Gender differences in participation

: "we find significant gender gaps in activity: women are more likely to ask questions, while men provide more answers"

Thanks for any insights you can provide. I appreciate your help.

Regards,
Stan


Maureen Mason
 

There have been a lot of amazing responses so far! 

+1 to the comment referencing that while the request was made to wait for women to chime in first, that was not respected. 

Part of my one lack of commenting or posting is due to a couple factors, 
1. As was mentioned by a few others, I don't often have time during the day to read long posts and in the evenings I am busying with my family. However I am striving to become more involved as it will benefit my own career and learning more. 
2. Often feeling a bit of imposter syndrome about my own contributions when compared against people who have many many more years experience than me.
3. Posts at times feel more academic (not a bad thing) then practical use cases. While I enjoy debating theory, given my limited time to participate posts/questions that are more hands on are more engaging. Such as the SME network post from a few weeks ago.   

Do you think there are any fundamental differences in the way men and women choose to post and reply?

Not sure that this could be broken out simply by gender, but would also influenced more by career tenure and experience level. Looking wholly at the demographics of the group, by identified gender, career level, years experience and then mapping that to the posts would be interesting to see. Potentially women in the group my be more new career and the men later career, due to the many complicated family care issues that tend to effect women's careers more then mens. 

Another question to look into is how does this group match the gender representations of the industry as a whole? 


There were a few other questions I know you had Stan, but I have only a few more minutes and I also want to post a quick question for the group. 

Maureen 


 

Wow, what an important discussion here. Nancy (Dixon), all of the reasons you wanted to raise this with Stan is what I've been feeling on this group for the past couple of years as I entered the KM profession. I tried to post to the community a couple of times and experienced that the responses were either 1) requests to look back on previous posts and find out for myself rather than posting the question again, or 2) responses that verge on the side of more academic or as sales pitches for services when I was looking for guidance as a KM practitioner. The end result was me feeling disappointed or even inadequate sometimes.

As far as reading all of the posts and participating, there's quite a bit of activity here, and I've given up trying to keep up with the time I have. If a post looks interesting, such as this one, I'll open it and maybe engage. 

Personally, I would love to see more practitioners here and in the world of KM who are sharing with each other, discovering, re-discovering, celebrating, and experiencing. I'm finding that this is a general problem with my experiences of the KM community, not just on this forum (although I don't have a lot of experiences, so I could be completely off here), and I do feel that this is potentially limiting our growth for the future. 

Thanks! Looking forward to any positive outcomes from this inquiry!

On Wed, Nov 13, 2019 at 1:28 PM Maureen Mason <toastersam@...> wrote:
There have been a lot of amazing responses so far! 

+1 to the comment referencing that while the request was made to wait for women to chime in first, that was not respected. 

Part of my one lack of commenting or posting is due to a couple factors, 
1. As was mentioned by a few others, I don't often have time during the day to read long posts and in the evenings I am busying with my family. However I am striving to become more involved as it will benefit my own career and learning more. 
2. Often feeling a bit of imposter syndrome about my own contributions when compared against people who have many many more years experience than me.
3. Posts at times feel more academic (not a bad thing) then practical use cases. While I enjoy debating theory, given my limited time to participate posts/questions that are more hands on are more engaging. Such as the SME network post from a few weeks ago.   

Do you think there are any fundamental differences in the way men and women choose to post and reply?

Not sure that this could be broken out simply by gender, but would also influenced more by career tenure and experience level. Looking wholly at the demographics of the group, by identified gender, career level, years experience and then mapping that to the posts would be interesting to see. Potentially women in the group my be more new career and the men later career, due to the many complicated family care issues that tend to effect women's careers more then mens. 

Another question to look into is how does this group match the gender representations of the industry as a whole? 


There were a few other questions I know you had Stan, but I have only a few more minutes and I also want to post a quick question for the group. 

Maureen 


Stan Garfield
 

It's been 5 days since I posed my initial questions on this topic. I would like reflect on the discussion so far and suggest the next steps.

I want to thank all of the women who responded. Your contributions are incredibly valuable and greatly appreciated.  Special thanks to Nancy Dixon for raising the topic, Kate Pugh for pursuing it during our conversation at the KMWorld dinner, and Susan Ostreicher for being the first woman to reply.

Here are my responses to some questions and suggestions. I realize that this post is longer than some people prefer, but I will ask your indulgence.

>I'd be curious to know what made you decide to look at the statistics.

Kate had brought this topic to my attention in the past, and Nancy did so again prior to the dinner. Nancy and Kate pulled me aside at the dinner to discuss it further, and this prompted me to review the posting history.

>It seems like members are around 55% men and 45% women.

We currently have 804 members, and while I haven't counted up the exact totals, my impression is that membership is approximately 50% women and 50% men. I review and approve each new member, and my sense is that it has been 50-50 for the past few years. As one indicator, 12 of the most recent 20 new members have been women.

>The article you cited notes that women are more likely to ask questions. I think it would be interesting to look at this if there's a convenient way to do that.

As a quick test, I reviewed the 10 most recent questions posted in the community. Of these, 5 were from women and 5 were from men.

>I think sharing community management across a team would provide an opportunity to grow diversity of participation in several dimensions.

I asked Susan Ostreicher to become co-manager of the community, and she has agreed. If anyone else would like to do the same, please let me know, and I will consider it.

>We might want to puzzle together about some guidelines related to how we want to engage each other in the community.  My goal was to have a community conversation, one much broader, but including gender, about how we as a community want to engage each other. I would still like that to happen. We might have a small group gather on Zoom to discuss community parameters (e.g., goals, theory of change, participation norms, operating model, facilitation, even metrics). Then we might have an open meeting on Meeting Sphere or some other app that supports both brainstorming and discussion.

This is fine with me. I would like to ask Nancy, Kate, and Susan to organize these conversations and keep the community informed about progress and results.


I asked that the men hold off on replying. Now I would like to ask them to respond. Here are my questions for the men:
  1. What did you learn from the posts made so far?
  2. How will this discussion affect your future posts and replies?
  3. What other observations, suggestions, and related articles and books can you share?
I will reply with my own responses, but first, I want to allow others to do so. I look forward to the continuing discussion.

Regards,
Stan


 
Edited

Stan - thank you for raising this and making space for this discussion. And thanks to everyone who’s responded thus far for your thoughtful and informative comments - very enlightening for me. 

What did you learn from the posts made so far
This online community is a microcosm of the business world and its attendant challenges that some women (many? All? - not making a judgement here!) contend with on a daily basis: struggling to be heard equally, feeling marginalized by the men in the room, and after awhile simply holding back on contributing due to disillusionment/frustration. 
 
How will this discussion affect your future posts and replies?
Not sure. I personally resonated with a lot of what has already been said. My experience in the business world feels similar in many ways to what the women here have described. If anything, it makes me even more aware of how real and persistent and pervasive these issues continue to be. So this will only serve to heighten my awareness and sensitivity when I do post to some of the dynamics that have been raised here. 
 
What other observations, suggestions, and related articles and books can you share?

Thoughts that occurred to me as I read the women’s posts; and my observations and questions that arose as a result. 

  1. Thought: Comments confirm that Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus! (Men are all about solving the problem, answering the question. Women are focused on collaborating with each other, empathizing, affirming. And men compete with each other for dominance, being the alpha male, making the sale). 
  2. Thought: Perhaps the difference in posts by gender is a manifestation of 90:9:1? (someone observed that only 5-8 people make most of the posts; and only one of these is a woman
  3. Question to consider: Are there gender differences in terms of what drew people to the field of KM? And to joining sikm forum? How about a poll/survey??
  4. Observation: IMHO, much of what we’re discussing here can be attributed to gender-based differences in the propensity for risk taking. Research would seem to support this: https://hbr.org/2013/02/do-women-take-as-many-risks-as
  5. Question: In order to get handle on what’s really behind anyone’s motivation to post here, maybe try asking yourself “why” five times. Why do I feel the need to post this? I suspect there might be meaningful differences in the  underlying motivations between men and women. Might make for an interesting experiment to find out. How about asking people (via anonymous survey or forum post) questions about how they feel when they post or what compels them to post, both in terms of starting a thread; and responding to a thread. I bet there are gender differences here that might account for what you’re seeing. (Guys take more risks!) Guys are more apt to “fake it till you make it” (competitive, risk taking), whereas women approach things with a more collaborative - and humble - attitude (truly collaborative, and risk averse). 

Thanks.
Tom.

Tom Short Consulting
TSC
+1 415 300 7457

All of my previous SIKM Posts


 

    Thank you Stan for posting the question and to Nancy Dixon and Kate Pugh for energizing the discussion.
    May I also say, Stan, I thank you for stewarding SIKM lo' these many years!

    Here are my responses.
    1. What factors influence whether or not you post or reply in this community?   I find the email modality quite onerous to providing a conversational sensibility to discussions.  If there is a query and several individuals respond then the email chain becomes long and confusing to keep track of in a conversational context.   The question is less around gender for me than around the question: are we simply sending back an email package of expertise, or are engaging in a dialogue?  "Packages of expertise" only interest me so far, but when I see an expanding conversation, I understand I may easily get more diverse perspectives, see more ways to make relevant contributions, etc.
    2. Do you think there are any fundamental differences in the way men and women choose to post and reply?  I have not given consideration to this question before - but please no Women are from Venus - Men are from Mars analogies!
    3. Do you consider the imbalance of posts by gender to be a problem? If so, why? If not, why not?  I have been quite an active participant in SIKM for some years attending the monthly calls and actively live Tweeting along with my colleague Mary Abraham  This year changes in my schedule has not allowed me to contribute in this way, but I hope to be able to continue.  I find the live Tweeting a way to help my own active learning, and share the benefits of the SIKM community   I will also say that I am an active member of three other private online groups with KM-like practitioners.  Tools we use are Matterhorn and Slack respectively.  I find that I can dip into conversations, readily scan threads, scan different "channels" of topical interest.  The modality of the tools reflect sustained transparency and conversation and dialogue.  Email is very static and moribund. I am glad to see that we have moved from Yahoo Groups.
    4. What, if anything, can be done to increase the percentage of posts made by women?  There are many talented and smart individuals in this community and some outstanding women practioners with whom I have had the distinct privilege of actually working with.  I would say that this might be a matter of what do we mean by community.   I think of it as a cohort of peers - people I can turn to for advice, ideas, share my own learnings in an interactive, lively way.  So to increase participation I think about how can we create a digital experience of mutuality and diaglogue - kind of like the moveable feast of KM World the the SIKM dinner?
    5. What articles, books, posts, and research do you think are relevant to this discussion?  I will think about this one a little more - I have lots of material on collaboration, teams, virtual working groups, cross-cultural teams, management practice, etc. but on this topic will research a bit.

    CATHERINE SHINNERS

    DIGITAL WORKPLACE for Business Transformation

    650.704-3889 mercedgroup.com Silicon Valley USA   

    catherineshinners@...

     

    digital workplace | communications  |  knowledge management | community management | Prosci certified change professional






    On Mon, Nov 11, 2019 at 10:50 AM Stan Garfield <stangarfield@...> wrote:
    I just reviewed 100 posts in this community made between August 16 and October 21, 2019. These are posts #6610 through #6709. I selected this period because it was before a recent flurry of KMWworld-related threads.

    Of these 100 posts, 80 were made by men and 20 by women.  This raises questions about why there is such a difference in the posting frequencies.

    To help us all better understand this phenomenon, I would like to ask that the following questions be answered only by the women of the SIKM Leaders Community. I will ask the men to respond later, but for now, please let the women exclusively reply.

    1. What factors influence whether or not you post or reply in this community?
    2. Do you think there are any fundamental differences in the way men and women choose to post and reply?
    3. Do you consider the imbalance of posts by gender to be a problem? If so, why? If not, why not?
    4. What, if anything, can be done to increase the percentage of posts made by women?
    5. What articles, books, posts, and research do you think are relevant to this discussion?
    Searching for articles, I found several. Here is one example from 

    Gender differences in participation

    : "we find significant gender gaps in activity: women are more likely to ask questions, while men provide more answers"

    Thanks for any insights you can provide. I appreciate your help.

    Regards,
    Stan


    Tom Barfield
     

    1. What did you learn from the posts made so far?
      The posts have raised my awareness that we are all different people.  The women/men angle is a major one.  There are myriad others.  We all come from different perspectives which influences how we engage, what we say, how we say it.  

    2. How will this discussion affect your future posts and replies?
      I will try to be a bit more self-aware in my writing.

    3. What other observations, suggestions, and related articles and books can you share?
      I agree with one of the themes I saw - the discussion board vehicle has limitations.  It seems as though the discussion is mostly about doing micro-peer assists.  I wonder if we should encourage a peer assist process. For instance, a member might post a question or situation and instead of asking for responses, invite members to join a call to discuss.  The protocol might include a requirement that key learnings be shared back to the group after a call.