2012 Skepchick Census Results!

More than 2,000 of you took the time to fill out this year's Skepchick Network Survey, and here are many of the results so you can see how you contribute to the intricate tapestry that is the Skepchick Network.If you're interested, here are the results from the 2010 survey. Generally, I just want to say at the outset that a very large number of you provided really great constructive feedback and really flattering love letters, both of which we appreciate immensely. In fact, as of today I've already made some changes to the site based on some of that constructive feedback:

  1. added posts' featured images to jazz up the RSS feed
  2. decreased the white space on the site, pushing elements a bit closer together
  3. made the RSS findable in Google Reader*
  4. scheduled time to start producing more YouTube videos

There are more updates that are now on my to-do list, too. I've also passed along a lot of your helpful suggestions to the other network contributors, like your desire to see some more long, in-depth articles, more international news, and more opportunities for you to get involved in saving the world. There are a few suggestions offered in the survey's open-ended questions that we actually already do, so I want to mention them here in case those people are reading:

  1. Make the entire article readable in RSS: as far as I'm aware, no reader truncates Skepchick Network posts. If you do see this, please use the contact form to let us know what reader is doing it so we can find out why.
  2. Allow users to comment without creating an account: for the past month or two, people have been successfully commenting on posts using Twitter, Facebook, Steam, OpenID, and lots of other options. Try it! It's fun!
  3. Add comment threading so replies appear under what they're replying to: yep, that already happens. A few of you complained that the threading is ugly – I agree, and it's on my to-do list of things to fix.
  4. Pay the writers: a few people said that if they were in charge of the site, they'd start paying us. The happy news is that Skepchick has started bringing in slightly more money in ads then what we pay for a server, and so each Skepchick writer is now paid for her or his traffic. It's not a lot, but it is something. As traffic (and therefore ad revenue) increases on our sister sites, I plan to start compensating those contributors as well. I wasn't going to mention all this publicly, but the survey responses suggest you all are more interested in the subject than I thought.

Finally, I want to mention that there were a few trolls (fewer than 10 by my count) – that was expected. They were very easy to pick out and discard (it took me way less time to delete them than it took them to fill out the survey), because a troll can't help but troll when given an open-ended question. The trolls were mostly very unintentionally funny, with my favorite being the one who seriously suggested that this site is some kind of income machine for me. It made me laugh to think that s/he read this post and thought it was all true.

OK, on to the survey results!

Here's who was responding: 95.8% of respondents read Skepchick, 5.5% read Teen Skepchick, 10.5% read Mad Art Lab, 15.5% read Queereka, 3.3% read, and 2.7% read Esceptica.

First, let's look at the basic demographics that make up Skepchick Network readers. One of the coolest results, for me, is the gender breakdown. Back in 2010, we were 63.4% men, 36% women, and .6% transgender (those were the only options). This year, we're 51.3% men, 45.4% women, and 3.3% other (2% nonbinary, 2.7% genderqueer, <1% none, 1.3% unsure/questioning, <1% other, which included "human" along with other more helpful answers like "androgyne"). Note that some numbers in the following pie charts may be off from what I write because of people choosing more than one answer. Sometimes I probably should have gone with a bar chart but I'm sort of rushing to get this data out there at the moment.

That's a pretty impressive increase in the number of women readers, which I attribute to our renewed effort to focus on feminism and topics in skepticism and science that specifically affect women. As far as I know, that's one of the most even gender breakdowns of any skeptic site.

93.4% of you are cisgender, 3.5% are transgender, and 2% are unsure/questioning. 1.9% were "other" which included androgynous.

74.5% of you are hetero, 12.5% are bisexual, 5% are asexual, 4.7% are pansexual, 3.6% are homosexual, 3.3% are unsure/questioning, 2.6% are gynesexual, 1.5% are demisexual, 1% are androsexual, <1% are skoliosexual, and 3.4% other.

In 2010, you were 85.4% straight, which is another large change.

In 2012, here's how our racial diversity breaks down: 93.2% white, 6% nonwhite.

Race 2012

That happens to be exactly what the breakdown was in 2010, which means that we have a lot of room to grow when it comes to racial diversity.

Here's where you live: 59% in the US, 10.9% in Canada, <1% in Mexico, <1% Central America, 1.2% South America, <1% Asia, <1% Africa, 19.1% Europe, 5.8% Oceania, and 1.7% "other" which was entirely comprised of people who apparently either don't know or refuse to acknowledge that their location is situated on a larger continent, or there was some serious language breakdown. That mostly included Australians, but other answers included France, Ireland, Northern Europe, UK, Germany, Sweden, and California. Look, guys, I'm sorry I didn't have an entire week to enter every country into the survey. OK?

Anyway, a ridiculous percentage of you have achieved a higher degree: 2% some high school, 8% high school degree or equivalent, 21.9% some college, 5.9% associate degree, 40.7% bachelor degree, <1% MD, 1.4% JD, <1% MBA, a ridiculous 19% masters, 7% PhD, and 4.5% other, which included a lot of people who wanted to say that they're nearly PhDs and some people who wrote things like "some university." I'm going to attribute those to a language barrier.

Most of you got or pursued degrees in STEM: science 34.9%, tech 14.2%, engineering 14.1%, math 10.7%. Others: social sciences 12.4%, lit 6.7%, communication 3.1%, art 7.2%, music 2.5%, philosophy 4.1%, business 3.7%, history 5.8%, humanities 8.2%, education 4.2%, and 13.1% "other" which included classics, architecture, languages, and nursing.

Similarly, 44.5% of you are employed in STEM. Education was also common, at 13%, and a common "other" option was full-time parent. Sorry I didn't include that in the list! Healthcare was also a common "other." And speaking of employment, I forgot to include "retired." Again, apologies!

You're all pretty diverse when it comes to age: 1.4% are 13-17, 15.2% are 18-24, 43.9% are 25-34, 22.1% are 35-44, 10.7% are 45-54, 4.9% are 55-64, 1.1% are 65-74, and <1% are 75+.

Few surprises when it comes to religion: 86.6% atheist, 22.3% agnostic, 14.8% anti-theist, 29.4% humanist, 11.9% nonspiritual/nonreligious, 2.1% spiritual/religious, 1.5% theist, and 4.7% "other" which included pantheist and Buddhist.

That's it for the basic demographics. On to how you interact with Skepchick!

Surprisingly few of our respondents ever actually comment on a post, another reason why we'll be focusing on improving the commenting experience soon. <1% comment several times a day; <1% every day; 4.3% weekly; 36.6% rarely; and 58% never comment at all.

Most of you read the site on weekdays (70.2%) in the morning or evening (83% total) at home (83.1%) rather than at work (39.6%).

Many of you found Skepchick via Freethoughtblogs (19.9%) or by SGU (which I forgot to include as an option but tons of you included under "other").

Your favorite topics on Skepchick are, in order, skepticism, feminism, atheism/religion, and science news, all of which were chosen by at least 74% of you.

Your favorite regular feature on Skepchick is definitely the Quickies (82.3% of you said so), but a full 30% love the new book club idea, and a lot of you used the open-ended questions at the end of the survey to say you also love Ask Surly Amy, which I stupidly forgot to add to that poll. Sorry about that!

When it comes to the possibility of a new sister site, the most popular option was a political site (56.2%), which surprised me since I hadn't even really considered it before I made that poll. 47.9% of you would like to see a site focused on education, which is one that I've long wanted to do. I'll give this some thought to decide whether we'd want to open new sites about those topics or just make those topics more prominent on Skepchick and the other existing sites. (And "politics" would probably be something more akin to political outreach and activism.)

There were a number of votes for another language site, with the top requests (a lot, actually) being French and German. I'd love to add more languages, so these are definite possibilities. Two people mentioned Gaelic, and one added that s/he would love to know if anyone else mentioned it. There you go! Feel free to comment below, in Gaelic, so you can find one another. One person mentioned Spanish, which makes me think we're not promoting Esceptica enough.

Here's how much you agreed with the statements at the end of the survey: basically you're mostly all skeptics and feminists, you think the site is pretty funny and informative, you like the navigate, you might need more tree kangaroo pictures in your life, you like the diversity of viewpoints on Skepchick, you are sort of sure that this is a Likert scale, and you're sort of sure that the comments are interesting and well-moderated. That one is a little lower, so I take it to mean that we can make some improvements to make the comment section friendlier and more fun. Finally, we come to the only required answer: what's the best animal ever?

It was neck and fuzzy neck for awhile there, but red panda took home the gold with 26.4%. Sloths came in at 24.2%, psychic octopus is 22%, tree kangaroo is 11.3% (possibly due to its MRA connections), and poor Yvonne the Psychic Cow is in last place with 5.6%. 9.7% of you are awful and hate animals. How could you?

One person sounded really, truly upset that this question was required. I'm sorry, that person, but your anger made me laugh and laugh and laugh. Anyway, congrats to red pandas! Here you go:

Thanks to all of you for taking the time to fill out the survey. The ridiculous amount of kind comments you left was wonderfully overwhelming, and the constructive feedback you gave us will continue to improve the site over the coming weeks (and beyond). Everyone here on the Skepchick Network appreciates how smart, passionate, and involved our audience is.

*This confused me at first, because several people complained that the site wasn't available in Google Reader, yet I read the site in Google Reader and we have two easy buttons on every page of the site that lets you add the RSS to a variety of readers with two clicks. But then I searched for the network feeds using Reader's abhorrent search feature and I found that the sites were not, in fact, showing up. No amount of Googling found me the answer, so I whined about it on Twitter and magically @jlego pointed out the problem in our sites' code, which I promptly fixed and now everything is searchable. Thanks, jlego!

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky

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  1. The inability to find via google readers truly awful search feature (ironic, I know) applies in my experience to most blogs.  I always have to manually add subscriptions or click the link on the site I want to add.

  2. "74.5% of you are hetero" Ummm… are you testing us with the pie charts?  Or maybe still collecting data with some fancy live-graphing solution?  Cause some of the charts and numbers disagree.

  3. Oops. Just realised my shoutings of "Revolution!" in the survey's comment section may have come off as trollish. I'm not a troll! I'm just a jackass that's not as funny as he thinks he is! Honest! Also I guess my results aren't really anonymous anymore. I'm not really good at this whole survey buisness am I?
    In any case I think you all are doing a great job with the site/ network :)

    1. Don't worry, the trolls made themselves very, very obvious. Not just  joking around here and there, but making it known that they hate our feminazi guts.

      1. Oh, ok. BTW I've never commented before but I'll try to comment more if I have something to contribute. I really like what you guys do here.

  4. I have a suggestion about comments I forgot to include in the survey. I find the nested nature of the comments to be problematic. Nested comments in general have the problem of new comments getting buried in the middle of the thread. If I want to come back to the thread and read new comments, I can't find all the new comments easily. With a flat thread structure, I just go to the bottom of the thread, and there are all the new comments.
    Additionally, the comments are only allowed to nest four levels deep. I think this is killing conversation as it only allows two replies back and forth before replies are disabled. I would suggest something closer to what FTB has, possibly with a quote button to copy the contents of a comment into your own comment for context. Another neat feature can be found on When you hit the "Reply to" button on a comment, it embeds a link in your comment back to the comment you're replying to. The nested nature of the comments as they exist now would lend themselves to this feature. FTB users do this manually by putting an "@13" in their comment to say that they are replying to comment 13.

      1. To my knowledge there is no demonstrably-better way to structure comments so they are readable to everyone. In fact, I think the perennial debate of nested/not nested kind of bears this out. Of course these days most commenting platforms allow some combination of nesting and filtering by newest and other variables. I wouldn't be surprised if OneAll does this (if they are powering your comments, too).
        Personally I prefer the nested approach.  

        1. I like the nested comments, if I want to keep track of new comments I subscribe to a thread, and read them chronologically in my email. Win win.

      2. Definitely in favor of doing that. Particularly given the absurdly narrow area comments can appear in, which leads to numerous three-word lines, which is hard to read and looks ridiculous.

      3. FWIW, I definitely prefer the nested comments. Otherwise if you reply to someone you have to be all "@Rebecca Watson:" and then I have to hunt for the post you're replying to. Another site I use ( is able to put a blue square around posts you haven't seen yet when you visit an old thread. I don't know if that sort of thing is possible, but it gets you the best of both worlds.

        1. Sam. I don't like the nested feature, and I certainly do not want my inbox flowing over with updates from all the blogs I follow.
          Simple solution? Let people choose flat or nested. As a programmer I know how simple that would be to make.

    1. I prefer flat comment threads myself, since the chronology is clearer.  If I want to reply specifically to what someone said, I tend to quote that part (and only that part).
      However, here's one thing you can do in nested threads with date stamps like this: search for yesterday or today's date with your browser.  This way you can jump directly to new comments.  Some kind of feature to explicitly mark posts newer than time T, like Drew Spencer mentioned, is probably the most effective.
      This is an eternal debate though.  We might as well talk about coffee vs tea.

  5. Regarding the people who wanted to say "some university" regarding their education: here in Canada (and maybe elsewhere), "college" and "university" aren't the same thing.  College is where you go to get a technical diploma – maybe in a trade, maybe in food services, maybe you went there to upgrade high school or take a few basic university courses, etc..  University is where you go to get a degree – a BS, MS, BA, etc…  So some people who care about these things may see "college" as less prestigious (or something) than "university" (I went to an American educational summer camp for several years when I was in high school.  I remember being asked what college I was going to go to.. my response was, "I'm not going to college, I'm going to university!!!"  Such a little snob I was – sorry.) There is some overlap – some colleges grant general BA or BS degrees, and some universities offer a few diploma programs, but that's the basic breakdown. 

  6. To respond about the actual census: YAY! I had a lot of fun taking it and do hope that both you and Sam write more often. 

  7. How did I miss the census??? I know, it's 'cause I've been following Rebecca's personal account on Twitter rather than @skepchicks, and (to answer a few questions here) you can thank/blame @krelnik for leading me here. I saw him at a GUST Meetup several years back. For what it's worth I'm a whitemalecishetero with a protestant background, but being an atheist in the Southeast USA sure helps me relate to other minorities.
    That panda pic is just the cutest thing EVAR!!1!  I just added "holding a baby panda" to my bucket list.
    Ben, one of the NaNoLanta Pandas!

  8. I answered Sloth but that picture right there is making me reconsider. Can I change my answer?

  9. Thank you so much for letting people sign in to post comments with other accounts. Seriously, as much as it's silly, ease of commenting makes more comments.
    Also, I'm sorry I'm a terrible person. Animals are okay I guess? I don't hate them, but I don't have favourites.

  10. I answered that I hate animals because there was no option for "I like all animals equally and refuse to play favorites."
    Also, this is my first post on Skepchick, so I guess I can't say I post "never" anymore. Thank you for posting the results of the census, they were very interesting to see.

  11. I’d personally like to see Rebecca with Red Panda colored hair.

    A striped tail is optional of course.

  12. "In 2012, here's how our racial diversity breaks down: 93.2% white, 6% nonwhite."

    Looking forward to seeing you guys tackle more stuff about race, and issues that face racial minorities. :3

    1. I have an article coming up on racism and stuff; we’ll see how that goes! I’ve been swimming in a sea of race issues this year, but I sort of don’t want to tokenize myself by blogging all the time about race stuff. (On the other hand, not blogging at all is obviously a worse option.) :)

    1. Why do you feel that is necessary to point out? Are you saying that discrimination against white people isn't discussed enough or something? White people very well could be a minority in a quantitative sense, but they are nowhere near being a minority in the sociological sense.

  13. I'm thrilled to see the male/female balance closer to even.  Honestly, I was shocked in 2010 when I saw the survey results. 
    Not sure if it's appropriate to say, but I look forward to one day being in the minority.  Here, at least.

  14. The race thing always hangs me up. I'm part European and part Mexican (largely native from what I can tell) as far as I know. What are you supposed to put? This is not not just for Skepchick, but for everything. It seems like there is no room for gray areas.

    1. Usually its designated white, non-hispanic. Otherwise go with which ever you identify with personally?

    1. I recommend the vlog Brothers and their subsidaries SciShow and Crash Course. They also just started a vlog based adaptation of one of Jane Austin's novels (Pride and Prejudice I think)

  15. I would love to help with a educational sister site. I run a sceptical society at my high school and am extremely passionate about teaching and promoting scepticism to the youngsters. It never ceases to amaze me how good they are at it.

  16. About the whole paying thing…this isn't an advertisement. In Germany, a lot of blogs are using something called Flattr. It was created by Peter Sunde who was one of the original creators of the Pirate Bay. Basicallly people sign up and pay a certain amount of money per month (whatever you choose) and then websites have a Flattr button on each article they write (kind of like a facebook like button). If one likes the article or whatever it is they can press the Flattr button. At the end of the month the money that was payed gets split between all the clicks that were made. It basically gets rid of the need for advertising and lets people pay for exactly what they like. On blog I read often is and he claims he makes about 300-400€ per month.  Anyway, maybe you would be interested.

  17. Note that for me at least, OpenID login doesn't actually work. It prompts for my OpenID URL, then when I click the button it … reloads the prompt dialog without actually doing anything. Forever.

    1. Unfortunately, I don't know why some OpenID providers don't work. Mine does, and I do see people comment using OpenID so it's not just me. Because it's all handled by a third-party, there's not even any monkeying around I can do to try to solve it. Sorry. :(

  18. While we are on the topic of comments, can anyone tell me how to put a picture with my username?

      1. Thanks! I felt like an idiot cuz I'd been trying to to do it off skepchick and wordpress. Who knew gravatar held the key?

    Cén "Gaelic"?  Tá trí teanga "Gaelacha":  Gaeilge (na hÉireann), Gaeilge na hAlban (Gàidhlig), agus Manainnis.  Is iad na teangacha eile deas, ach tá mé ag foghlaim na Gaeilge, an teanga na hÉireann.

  20. Hi guys, really interesting to read the census results! The reason so many Asutralians chose "other" is because Australia is actually a continent and you left us off the list.

      1. Yep, that's fair enough. I think most Australians identify with Australia as a continent rather than being a part of the Oceanic region (even though it technically is). I just thought I'd try to offer an explaination other than "serious language breakdown", or brain melt. :)

  21. Why not have both commenting systems? I could see a comment system where the click of a button changes organization from tree to serial mode and back again. A simple cookie could record the preference. You could even have extra options for experimental comment organization systems, too!

  22. Hi, Rebecca… I'm not sure if you'll ever read this but I've been a huge fan ever since I read about the "elevator" incident. I can't count the number of times I've been "hit on" (inappropriately) by random strangers… So personally, I think you should put A LOT more focus on teaching guys sexual boundaries when it comes to flirting. And I know that writing articles about that won't change all of them or even most of them… But it'll change the ones who are actually willing to change for the better.

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