More readers share their thoughts on the recent thread:
As a female atheist I agree with the reasons for our scarcity theorized by Susan Jacoby in the Humanist article you linked to previously. The source communities for atheism are male dominated, and politically conscious women are – in my experience with student activism at least – more inclined to tackle issues specific to women.
I would add my own supplemental theory, which is that women are the traditional transmitters of culture to the next generation. Whatever parent does the most caregiving is the most responsible for instilling in the children a code of behavior, and progress toward parental equity notwithstanding, that’s still mostly women. Because our society still equates morality and social cohesion with supernatural belief, I’m sure there are many women who start out with a neutral position toward religion but drift closer to it – and away from atheism – as a subconscious promotion of their children’s social acceptability. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that believers often become more devout when they start raising children and I wouldn’t be surprised if that has a drag effect on the level of belief.
I don’t think that it’s the job of the atheist community to pick a couple of women from their ranks and “promote” them, whatever that means. Atheism is not, sorry to say, a political movement where there are party bosses who can pick up some back benchers and give them prominent roles to advance their careers. Atheists are a herd of cats, which is really a problem on many fronts, including any kind of organized promotion of pretty much anything.
Another isn’t impressed with some of the high-profile atheist women so far:
My first memory of the term atheist was Madalyn Murray O’Hare on the Phil Donahue show. I was probably around 10 at the time and remember very little of it other than a general impression of what an awful person she was and what a shame, since it would be nice to have a real discussion about the obvious fact that there is no magic man up in the sky. That experience is probably not a significant reason why I am a deGrasse Tyson Agnostic (dTA) rather than an out-and-loud atheist, but if I were older at the time I saw it, and especially if I were a woman, I could see watching that and the audience reaction to her and just shutting up about religion for good.