Sep 29, 2020 at 11:19 pm #3677923KarenBPL Member
I read the “recent” threads fairly regularly, when I’m not able to get out and away from my computer. It seems like there used to be more women starting threads and commenting on existing ones. Is it a misimpression or are there fewer women members now? Did they all go over to FB?
I was going to do a review of Ridge merino women’s boyshorts underwear (they’re the best!) but it seems like there isn’t much point, if most readers are men.Sep 29, 2020 at 11:50 pm #3677928PedestrianBPL Member
It’s not just fewer women members; it’s fewer members posting period.Sep 30, 2020 at 10:45 am #3677949Keith JohnsonBPL Member
Karen I am out in the Cascades all the time and I can’t believe how many women are backpacking these days. Usually in groups of two or three, sometimes solo, sometimes with a guy. It’s awesome to see. Many are equipped by REI and don’t know BPL exists. Many are packing 40 pound loads in an era where some of us are trying to get under 10 pounds with food for three days. The women are out there hiking and backpacking, just not sitting here fussing over counting grams and buying the latest SUL shelter, like me.Sep 30, 2020 at 6:14 pm #3677983
This is one of the few websites I actually still participate in for several reasons: there are some very helpful posts by women such as yourself, Karen; the moderators do a good job of keeping down the trolls; and most folks are good about sharing relevant experience and trying to answer questions. I do think Facebook and other social media platforms have drained a lot of users away from forums like this. It makes me sad, as I really REALLY don’t want a smartphone.
And I’d love to read your review of the Ridge merino underwear! My old Smartwool boyshorts are showing their age (and w-a-a-y too much of me.).Sep 30, 2020 at 6:15 pm #3677985
Edit: No, one does not need a smartphone to be on FB. I just won’t do it.Sep 30, 2020 at 6:43 pm #3677991KarenBPL Member
Yeah, Keith, I know a fair number of women backpackers. We were all hiking and backpacking 30 years ago too; it’s not new. I wasn’t really questioning whether women backpack or hike, just why there don’t seem to be many here on BPL, or why there seem to be fewer here now than there used to be.
Most people are not out backpacking most of the time! Those that are backpacking more than time spent on all the rest of life’s activities are pretty doggone lucky! I def don’t know anyone like that.Sep 30, 2020 at 9:47 pm #3678014rubmybelly!BPL Member
@sleepingLocale: The Cascades
Interesting on how, so far, only one woman has replied to this thread, though I know there are at least a couple more who engage here. But yes, less than there used to be, it seems.Oct 1, 2020 at 11:53 am #3678059
Well, I’ll reply again :>) I wonder if many women prefer to consult personally with trusted friends first rather than post something on the internet and risk potential ridicule, real or perceived. The web can be a pretty harsh place, and it helps to be able to not take things personally. Still can’t answer why fewer women might be posting here.
I do not read or post in as many forums as I used to. This is due to a combination of shifting interests and, honestly, fatigue with what is often a lack of civility. Not usually an issue here.Oct 1, 2020 at 1:40 pm #3678066d kBPL Member
Yeah, I tend to post less in the forums as time goes on, mostly in chaff if anything. It started way back when there was a particularly egregious website upgrade, as I recall; but also around that time, I more or less got my gear dialed in to where I liked it, and suffered less from GAS (gear acquisition syndrome).
I would be interested in your review, though!Oct 1, 2020 at 7:23 pm #3678113Geoff CaplanBPL Member
@geoffcaplanLocale: Lake District, Cumbria
Sadly, it’s quite striking how the forums here are dominated by white men of a certain age.
Is there anything the publishers or the community should be doing to encourage more diverse participation?
It’s a great community, but it certainly doesn’t reflect the diversity of the people I see in the hills, and we’re all the poorer for that…Oct 1, 2020 at 8:22 pm #3678121lisa rBPL Member
I’m here and review posts fairly regularly and post myself on occasion. I appreciate this group. I’m in some Facebook groups and sometimes find them valuable, but I’m also highly conflicted about them – I think social media has contributed to a lot of harm to some really special places. I don’t feel conflicted about what I see in this group so when social media really starts to bum me out I’m glad so have this safe space. I do think the level of analysis found here is probably major overkill for many people and might feel kind of exclusive, not so much the tone as the level of technical-ness (the better vocab word escapes me). But when I’m feeling a need or desire to dive deep into the weeds, this is a great place for it. And I’ve learned a lot!Oct 1, 2020 at 9:22 pm #3678125David GardnerBPL Member
@gearmakerLocale: Northern California
It would be great to be more inclusive across the board. The percentage of backpackers I see on the trail who are women seems to be higher than the percentage women here. And I’m shocked to realize as I write this that I’m not sure I’ve seen a person of color in the wilderness since my Boy Scout days ended 50 years ago.
My thoughts on both:
1. The demographic of BPL posters reflects the larger demographic of ultralight campers. It’s edgy/risky, which in my experience has generally been more of a guy thing, compared to mainstream camping technology and technique. As lisa r mentioned above there’s a lot of deep technological discussion, and in our society men have traditionally been generally been more math/science/engineering educated and oriented. It can be very expensive, which due to income inequality in our society makes it more affordable for White men. It often requires a week or longer off work which requires a job with good vacation benefits or sufficient income so a person can afford the time off, which again tends to favor White men. And the conservation/camping/ecological movements were started by well-off White people, some of whom believed Whites were genetically superior to all other races (like John Muir – which the Sierra Club acknowledges openly now).
2. A very high percentage of what goes on here is gear related which, in my admittedly White middle-age middle-class experience of life, is generally more of a guy thing than a gal thing in almost every sphere. I hope that statement is not perceived negatively by anyone, and there are many exceptions and certainly no reason it must be that way, but it has been my experience.
3. There can be and often is a competitive aspect to many things gear related (lower weight, new technology, the latest materials, the highest or lowest cost, cleverness, multi-use-ness, etc.) which, more so in the past, has generally been a guy thing.
So how do we, as a community, encourage more women and people of color to join and participate? Short term, and long term. Short term perhaps dedicated outreach and publicity, like a I see Bicycling magazine doing. Long term, most of my life I’ve believed that as a country we have been tending towards equal treatment, equal opportunity and inclusiveness in the long run, and that it would continue that way. Now I’m not so sure.Oct 1, 2020 at 9:46 pm #3678127Ken ThompsonBPL Member
@hereLocale: Right there
Look at how many subscribers and how many are currently online at Reddit Ultralight 237k and 863Oct 1, 2020 at 11:11 pm #3678138David GardnerBPL Member
@gearmakerLocale: Northern California
The 237K is BPL?
Reddit. Oh wow. Oh no – content overload!Oct 2, 2020 at 2:38 am #3678149Jon SolomonBPL Member
I’d love to read a review of Ridge merino women’s boyshorts underwear, too. My wife doesn’t have any interest in participating here, not even passively, so I regularly read for her.
While I’m at it I’d like to point out that inclusiveness is super important but doesn’t address all the issues that go into active engagement.
This site is oriented towards engineering (materials science, mechanics, design) and planning. It’s pretty cool but can be alienating, too. The gender gap in engineering fields is well known.
The editors have been making some laudable decisions to curate more content that is what I’d call more experience-oriented. It doesn’t seem yet to have percolated into the forums, but maybe it will.
Re-valorising experience is a necessary step to attracting and encouraging engagement from people who don’t fit into the engineering norm. Not just women people but all kinds of people, including men like me who’ve gone through long periods of silence here because of a lack of interest in dialogues led by engineers.
Heck, some of my best friends are male engineers, I don’t (generally) hold it against them, lolz!Oct 2, 2020 at 10:23 am #3678177Tipi WalterBPL Member
Regarding Reddit’s “forum” on UL backpacking—can someone tell me how it works? I don’t see Reddit’s forum divided into different subject like here on BPL—all I see are endless topics and deep scrolling—deep scrolling is the bane of an internet forum—my opinion of course.
See how BPL divides their forum into use subjects—
And Whiteblaze.net does the same thing. Reddit on the other hand seems to be like Facebook—one long scrolling line of mixed up subjects. Am I wrong??Oct 2, 2020 at 10:45 am #3678179Brad RogersBPL Member
@mocs123Locale: Southeast Tennessee
I’m a member of a few groups on Reddit (including the UL group) but I hate the format. I’m not sure if that’s where the BPL’ers went, but any complaining they did over the software here (which certainly has it faults) is nothing compared to that mess.
I much prefer BPL
Any yes, it is the wild west of mixed topics.Oct 2, 2020 at 11:11 am #3678183Jon SolomonBPL Member
Forum divisions can be more intimidating to people who don’t post regularly. Having all posts on all topics mixed together encourages participation (while hindering other things).
But these are superfluous differences. The main difference between BPL and Reddit UL is age group.Oct 2, 2020 at 11:16 am #3678184DanBPL Member
I totally agree with David’s point about competitiveness. I notice that many of the regular contributors have a competitive and know-it-all attitude, which doesn’t appeal to me at all, and may not appeal to women in general. Way too much focus on who has the lightest gizmo or walks the most miles. Who cares.Oct 2, 2020 at 4:03 pm #3678204David ThomasBPL Member
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
Men are socialized to hold themselves forth as experts (whether they are or not) more than women, particularly in the old-fart generation still on long-form, paid forums like BPL – I’m certainly guilty of that. Versus the faster-moving, and free(!) Reddit where one gets more cred for being witty than prattling on a lot (even if the long answer is all good info).
My preference for BPL is for the give&take of the longer, more linear conversations and for recognizing more of the participants (due to smaller numbers and avatar photos) both of which might also be favored by women.
Women’s greater willingness to ask directions/questions gets blunted by BPL’s pay-to-play model. A newbie can post a question on Reddit for free but needs to make a monetary commitment on BPL so we get very few “Give me a shakedown review” or “What are quilts all about?” beginning questions in comparison. Back when posting on BPL (except in Gear Trade) was free, we got a lot more newbies, some of whom would stick around.Oct 2, 2020 at 10:06 pm #3678239SIMULACRABPL Member
@simulacraLocale: Puget Sound
(*cough) Caucasian Mr. Caplan, Caucasian. Or European American if you wish :)Oct 3, 2020 at 6:20 am #3678248Erica RBPL Member
I’m here. I carry an extra pair of underwear. Maybe that’s why I’m not ultralight?Oct 3, 2020 at 9:51 am #3678258Bruce TolleyBPL Member
@btolleyLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
My impression is what David said:
“Back when posting on BPL (except in Gear Trade) was free, we got a lot more newbies, some of whom would stick around.”Oct 3, 2020 at 11:35 am #3678275Mina LoomisBPL Member
@elmvineLocale: Central Texas
Who is registered on BPL, who is reading, and who is posting, might have vastly different gender breakdowns. I am here, I read the forums, and the articles pretty often, have posted occasionally, and even contributed a couple of articles in the distant past.
But I think there is a lot to the observation of “fewer posts” by women. I often have thoughts about an ongoing topic but hesitate to post because of, probably overblown, nervousness about getting jumped on if I get some technicality wrong. Just something some women learn in life–don’t stick your head up out of the water if you might not be perfect. Doesn’t mean we’re not here, reading and learning. But it does mean we might not be contributing as much.
Maybe the answer is, all of us women who value this forum, might think about contributing more, if we want to broaden the scope. I have certainly learned enough here over the years, to make such an effort worthwhile.
I have a couple of diversity-related questions I’ve been thinking about raising, but I’m not sure how to phrase them yet, so this will have to do for now.
And yes, let’s hear about the underwear!Oct 3, 2020 at 11:54 am #3678285John S.BPL Member
The need to talk about 20+ mile days (or their 30, 40, 50 mile days) in a high number of one’s posts is certainly entertaining. I have noticed it recently. It’s just bragging like in other recreation.
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