Why is History News Network’s list of Top Young Historians “who are,” according to the text accompanying the list “making their mark on the profession” overwhelmingly male? I mean, by 4-1? Now, the list of historians named as having made nominations of notable scholars is also overwhelmingly male (6-1, to be precise), although the accompanying text suggests that these names may only be representative of a larger group. One imagines that these nominations come in over the transom, and that HNN is not fully responsible for this apparent discrimination. But one also does not know.
Broad minded person that I am, and so loathe to blame my friends at HNN for this, that I have tried to think through the Top Ten Reasons for a gender discrepancy in this list of notables, a discrepancy that far outweighs the number of women actually employed as academic historians in the United States. To wit:
1. More men than women are nominating people for this list, and people tend to try to prop up the interests of their own gender.
2. Women nominate candidates, but their nominations are not terribly notable, so neither they or their nominations were listed.
3. Men generally engage in scholarly dialogue of various kinds with other men, and so they miss the notable scholarship published by women.
4. The work of men is, objectively speaking, more significant to the profession of history than the work of women.
5. Men think women are kind of dumb. Or generally dumber than men, with one or two exceptions.
6. Women are, in fact, not very smart.
7. Women are smart enough, but don’t make the impact that men do on the rest of the historical profession.
8. Women are lazy and do not pay attention to getting female candidates named to lists of notables.
9. Women have better things to do than nominate people for these awards, whereas men do not, and men sit in their offices all day nominating each other.
Go figure, dear reader: and don’t snap back that this feature is edited by a woman, ok? I know that. Furthermore, in the interests of full disclosure, let me say that HNN links Tenured Radical, both in its blogroll and in Ralph Luker’s Cliopatra, which makes me feel notable, at least.
For ways of becoming informed on these, and other feminist issues in the historical profession, see Hesse et. al., The Report on the Hiring of Women and Minority Historians, written for the AHA; also an AHA report on gender equity by Lewis et. al. at the Committee for Women Historians (CWH), and the 2005 CWH document on the Status of Women in the Historical Profession, otherwise known as the Lunbeck Report.