Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Race, gender, and nationality on UM & Global

Today's post is by UM & Global blogmaster Dr. David W. Scott, Assistant Professor of Religion and Pieper Chair of Servant Leadership at Ripon College.

Over the last two weeks, I've reported on the percentage of authors by race, gender, and nationality among those blogs submitted to Methoblog and on umc.org's Blogs and Connections page.  This week, it's time to turn the analysis inward and look at who's writing on this blog.

To start with, I as a white American male have written about 2/3rds of the posts on UM & Global over the lifetime of the blog.  As a regular rule, I write the Tuesday post, and a guest writes the Thursday post, but there are weeks where there's been no guest writer, and there were a couple of months at the beginning of the blog that I wrote exclusively.

The guest writers are invited from a network of professors, mission practitioners, and church leaders.  Thus, it is a curated collection of voices, as I discussed last week.  Guest writers are selected by a steering committee for this blog composed of four members of the United Methodist Professors of Mission including two white American males, one white European male living in America, and one white American female.  All but two of the guest writers were living in the US at the time of writing, though I know from personal contact that several of them are originally from countries other than the US.  Where that's the case, I have identified them in the statistics below by their continent of origin.  When I was in any doubt, I assumed the writer was American.

Out of our 31 guest writers, 11 (35%) are white American males, 4 (13%) are white American females, 4 (13%) are white European males, 3 (10%) are Asian-American males, 3 (10%) are Asian males, 2 (6%) are Latino-American males, 1 (3%) is a Latino male, 1 (3%) is an Asian-American female, 1 (3%) is an Asian female, and 1 (3%) is an African-American female.  That leads to 77% male authors, 71% American, and 61% white overall.

As the numbers show, there's been a noticeable gender imbalance in our authorship, reflecting in part gender biases in the academy.  African-American and especially African voices are under-represented on this blog.  There are some technological and linguistic challenges in including African voices, but that's not an excuse.  It is our intention at UM & Global to develop a more representative collection of United Methodist voices from around the world.

The single biggest thing UM & Global could do to present a more representative collection of voices, though, would be for me to write fewer of the posts.  That's actually a plan in the works.  While I will continue to manage the technology aspects of UM & Global and will continue to contribute posts, it is our intention to transition in 2015 to a format more similar to that used by UMC Lead, where there is a collection of regular writers for the blog, of which I will be only one.  These writers will come from among United Methodist professors, missionaries, theologians, and church leaders from around the world.  It will still be a curated collection of voices and probably still not be entirely proportional to the membership, but I do want be sure we are including a set of voices that reflects even if it does not quite proportionately represent the racial, gender, and national diversity of the UMC.

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