I’m running a Discourse forum on Buddhism, and we have noticed that there are few women participating. As the forum runner (and a bloke) I’ve tried to encourage women to participate, and ensured that the moderators were all women. However the disparity is still there.
I haven’t analyzed numbers in detail, but it seems as if the disparity is both in people using the forum, and in willingness to participate.
Here at meta, it seems as if there’s same issue, and as far as I know it’s never been discussed.
The obvious culprit for such a disparity would be the very frequent, vicious, sexist attacks leveled at women participating in many online arenas. Even if this doesn’t actually happen on a forum—and it hasn’t happened on ours—it surely has a dampening affect.
Anyway, I was hoping that someone—especially women!—would have something to say about this, and maybe some suggestions for how to improve participation by women.