It's not that I have a desire to leave the men out, but you have to admit, there are not many women around when it comes to atheism. (Don't stop reading guys, as you're as much involved in this as any female!) I've had the chance to talk with some great women and men about this reality, and I feel I've come up with a few of the reasons that there aren't as many gals, and what we can do to shift the balance.
Sexism from both genders holds us back. As females we are taught that it isn't very 'feminine' to vocalize our opinions, especially opinions that the majority may not find pleasant. We are most often taught from a young age that to be attractive we need to be quiet and agreeable. Also, there's always the concern, as a thinking person, that if we let too much of our femininity show we will not be taken seriously; we must be manly to be powerful. But hey, let's face it, whether we look like an old hag or Carmen Electra, there will always come a time when someone's in line to put us down. The sad part of this is that so often it's women hating other women, when we should instead be banding together. So ladies and gents, next time you think about chopping someone down based on their appearance or mannerisms, try to think again. Embrace all kinds of women and understand that being feminine takes many forms.
Another key element to women being held back in skepticism is we are taught that to be critical of something is wrong. This seems to be at least partially due to the fact that the word 'critical' almost always takes on it's first, most well known definition: "inclined to find fault or to judge with severity". We need to help re-establish that being critical has another meaning, "involving skillful judgment as to truth, merit". People of both sexes need to do their part to show others that 'critical' does not have to mean rude, stubborn, or judgmental.
Although you really do need to think things through before you speak, of course, do not be afraid to state your opinion concerning matters great and small. This is another area where so many people can be held back. Your opinion is valid! You do not have to be a biblical scholar to talk about the bible. You do not have to be the greatest writer in the world to share your feelings. (Hello, I think I'm a good case in point on that one!) We need to get over it and stop being afraid of sharing, or of looking inadequate in others' eyes. We are all more than adequate, and whatever we have to give to further the cause of atheism, we need to be up front and center sharing it with one another and the rest of society.
Be out and proud of who you are whenever you can. When more women are out about their atheism, it will help other women to be confident in their views. And when that gender shift starts to happen, all of the single atheist men and women will have us to thank when they find their life partner at one of our events.
There are many more reasons for a shortage of atheist women, what are your thoughts and ideas on it? Email firstname.lastname@example.org, or join the discussion on the MNA online forum.