Fascinating! Now we're getting somewhere.
Before I answer the posts, a little bit of background. I live in Canberra, Australia and am a member of the 2 very active bonsai clubs there, which have a combined membership of around 220.
If you look at the club officers rosters, many if not most of the officers are women
Joanie, here it varies. This year, most are women, last year they were most men.
Women are more social, more willing to do volunteer work, and much of the organizing falls to them.
Here, it depends. If the men are retired, they take on a lot of the volunteer work. At the moment, they do most of it. So, maybe it's not just a gender question, but an age one
With the emphasis on larger, more elaborate trees (...) and the emphasis on outdoor trees, I really do suspect that it is an outdoor/rugged/masculine hobby as it is currently judged and shown. The little trees, the delicate trees, are not the ones getting attention and consideration.
Terribly sorry to be at variance again, but though it is an outdoor hobby, it is only as rugged as one makes it, and (here at least) not predominantly masculine. This may be due to our climate, in part. We have hot, dry summers, and winters with night frost, sometimes pretty severe, but it never freezes in day time. Springs and autumns are delightful. All of that makes bonsai fairly easy to grow, and invites outdoor activities. The women go collecting with the guys, and where something is too hard, they get help. So, the climate factor is an influence too.
On the Internet, there is indeed quite an avalanche of "macho" trees, but I don't think that necessarily reflects the off-line situation. In our clubs, though there are a lot of collected bonsai, there's a pretty good balance of all sizes. One has to remember that only a very small proportion of bonsai growers frequents the forums.
James, many thanks for the trouble you took, and showing us the results.
My post is getting terriby long, so I won't reply in detail, but just comment on Carl's summary:
Small and non-random as the sample may be, the responses certainly offer some degree of support to that which I've been concerned about: that bonsai clubs / forums are not yet welcoming environments in which women feel comfortable and are taken seriously.
Sigh. Here I go again! We have none of that trouble, or we wouldn't have a 50-50 men/women membership. One's standing in a club depends entirely on one's contribution and there's no sexism. Sexual harrassment? No way!
It may seem that I am painting an ideal situation in an ideal world, but what I wrote is no more than the simple truth. Of course, things aren't always rosy. Sometimes there's bickering, or "politics", as in any club. But these are not gender related. Mind you, I can't answer for other clubs in this country.
All in all, I'm not a very good person to talk to, about women in bonsai, off-line. I'd just like to see more of them on the Internet.