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Travelling on its own is by far a man's world, yet I have the impression that the audience on travel.se mainly is. Being one of the first participators I have seen some women come and (unfortunatly) go. There is one exception that I can think of.

Is my impression correct or are the females hidden behind the nicknames. If is a male-only audience, what can we do to make to make the contributors more equally distributed to reflect the real travelling population?

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    I can think of a couple of specific questions here where the gender piece may be relevant (the question on male only steam baths, and perhaps one of the ones about toilets in different countries) but if we exclude them, I have no reason to care whether an individual posting on here is male or female. If anything I would support not doing this - let's allow people to be as anonymous as they want to be. If their questions/answers are good who cares who they are? – Rory Alsop May 16 '14 at 15:31
  • Isn't this also partly a consequence of the fact that SE is male-dominated to begin with? I discovered travel.se only through other SE sites. – Kenny LJ May 22 '14 at 23:14
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Let me ask you some questions (given that I am almost certainly the exception you're thinking of)

  • is there more motivation for women to adopt gender neutral nicknames and pseudonyms, or even male names they weren't born with, for use online, than there is for men?
  • what makes you think the pseudonymous users have the same fraction of women as the named users? On the first page I count 16 obviously male names or avatar pics, 2 female (me and victoriah) and 18 pseudonyms with nonhuman avatar pics. If all 18 pseudos are female, there are more women than men. What if half the "men" are women who feel safer pretending to be men?
  • do you think that travel is more female or less female than SO, meta, cooking, gardening, or home improvement?
  • if travel is less female than it "could be" or "should be", what should be done about it?

There are a handful of female-specific question areas, primarily around safety (can I walk alone at night in place X?) and regulations (women must cover themselves, women can't go in this place) and those questions have been asked here and answered here.

In general, there is no genderness to wondering whether a trip advisor review is fake, wanting to know the opening hours of something, or trying to find a good price for plane tickets. I don't think this site repels women, and I don't think it needs to change anything in the hope of attracting more women. But I'd be interested in hearing what anyone thinks could be changed, and why that would make a difference.

  • we can't ping you from the chat if you've not been in there recently, but it'd be great to see you in there occasionally too! And if there's any chance you're on the west coast in June/July, it'd be good to know! – Mark Mayo May 12 '14 at 11:47
  • @MarkMayo I rarely go into any of the chats, alas. I believe my next Seattle trip will be in September :-) – Kate Gregory May 15 '14 at 16:53
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    This is a good answer. However, with regards to "is there more motivation for women to adopt gender neutral nicknames" - if Travel.SE, or Stack Exchange in general, is contributing to this "motivation", then we have a problem. – Andrew Grimm Jun 24 '14 at 3:08
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Whenever someone comes up with "what should we do to attract more XXX" (where XXX can be anything) I get wary. It just implies that either there's a deliberate effort underway to deter XXX from participating, or that there's somehow a need to have a minimum contribution from XXX in order to not be seen as discriminating (usually).

IMO neither is going on here. Unless you count the questions like "what activities can I find for my upcoming stag party in Atlanta" (which was asked and rightfully closed as off topic), there's very little male-specific questions being asked at all, certainly no more than female-specific questions.
And even if there were, if that reflects the interests of the community there's nothing wrong with that unless you're concerned that you're going to be considered "anti-female" by not ensuring exactly equal ratios (or even ratios favouring women).

Mind that's not specific to male/female things, but also race, sexual orientation, etc.. Instead of asking why we're not actively promoting questions specifically useful to women you might as well claim we're discriminating against homosexuals by not having at least 20% questions explicitly of interest to them. Both are bogus arguments. Unless you can show the community is actively hostile towards a group (something I've not observed) there's no need to actively pursue a "female friendly agenda" even for a moment. If women are interested in asking or answering questions here there's nothing stopping them from doing so. And as Kate points out, there's indeed nothing stopping them, and indeed a decent percentage of users are (probably, you can never tell online, Your username or profile picture may show a woman but that's no guarantee you are one), a percentage higher than the traditional ratio of men to women on internet forums (not counting ones specifically targeting women of course).

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If is a male-only audience, what can we do to make to make the contributors more equally distributed to reflect the real travelling population?

Don't try to fix something which is not broken. I suppose that you have a good intention but the road to hell is paved with such intentions because it does the exact opposite what you trying to achieve.

SE in general has explicit standard rules for behaving. The important part of the rules is that there is no difference to which human being they are applying. All people have to be treated equally.

If there are instances of behavior which violate good conduct, we can impose further restrictions and I think everyone here is glad to point such violations out and work to remove them.

If you call for a specific behavior to promote a particular group, you are essentially telling people that this particular group should be treated differently. Something should be done to shift the perceived participation for a particular group.

It fosters stereotypes instead of removing them. Ask yourself how the tone of your question changes if we replace women with wheelchair users and men with walkers. You are asking to treat people differently on an arbitrary set of attributes. It also begs the question: Why exactly is it important that I use a wheelchair ?!* It is also a bit derogatory because you seem to have a very specific image of women.

We do know that people are reacting differently to different attributes. It's life. And therefore many people use pseudonyms or change their perceived identity because they do not want to be treated like the group they supposedly belong to. As already pointed out, you perceive the gender ratio but you do not actually know the correct ratio. It is not our business to know who are you exactly.

*No, I am a walker, but I used to participate in wheelchair competitions. The term "walker" is the direct translation from the word used in Germany, I do not know if it is the same in English-speaking countries. Ask yourself what you imagined after reading this example and why did you do it ;-)

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    "Don't try to fix something which is not broken." Travel Stack Exchange is already broken. When initially asked, two users stated that women were inherently less suitable than men for this site. – Andrew Grimm Jun 24 '14 at 3:02
  • your understanding of why women choose neutral or male handles for online interaction is deeply flawed. This isn't the time or place to correct it, but try using a female name and avatar on Twitter and then just acting the way you always do. You will learn something. – Kate Gregory Jun 24 '14 at 11:29
  • @KateGregory "do not want to be treated like the group they supposedly belong to" includes hitting on. I used a more generic explanation because I do not wanted to be specific after using generic examples. – Thorsten S. Jun 25 '14 at 0:20
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    yeah, this is not about "hitting on". Try "you should be raped, you $^%^# %$^&^&^%$" and getting worse from there. If you haven't read it, you literally cannot imagine it. But that's all I will say about it here. – Kate Gregory Jun 25 '14 at 0:49
  • @KateGregory Oh shit. Coming from Germany I was hoping that it was not that ugly because the problem here is hitting on and finally sexual harassment. After searching and taking now a closer look: it also happens here, but mostly to female political bloggers, not on social network accounts. Hopefully. – Thorsten S. Jun 25 '14 at 1:21
  • @ThorstenS. I'm not quite sure of what you are implying with "Coming from Germany I was hoping that it was not that ugly"... – Geeo Jun 28 '14 at 20:12
  • @Geeo It means Kate came to her conclusion "that my understanding [...] is deeply flawed" from her experiences which are dependent on culture. And we all subconsciously assume that the differences are not so big. We had in Germany a known Twitter debatte under the name #Aufschrei (Outcry) about sexual harassment,so I assumed that it is the worst what happens. Rape threats and vicious insults are completely out of order (I needed to gulp myself) and I cannot imagine that it happens here on a comparable level. Denmark is quite near and the Danish people have an even stronger aversion. – Thorsten S. Jun 28 '14 at 21:29

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