WE try to make our Letters Pages as inclusive and welcoming as possible. We hope to attract as wide a range of correspondents as we can.

We try to cover just about any subject you can think of. We look for fair and balanced selection. We don’t tolerate abuse or gratuitous insults. The intent is to provide a forum for rigorous, but civilised, debate.

I think we make a pretty good job of it. But there’s one thing that’s bothering me: why don’t we have more female letter writers?

Consider the evidence just from this week: on Monday, two out of the 12 letters published were from women. On Tuesday three out of 11; it was the same story on Wednesday. On Thursday, the score was two out of 12 again; yesterday, one out of 14, today two out of nine. So that makes 13 out of a total of 69, or just over 17 per cent. This from what ought to be a demographic of 51%.

A glance at other newspaper letters pages paints pretty much the same picture. Now why should this be?

There are several possibilities. I’m wary of straying into sexist territory here, or invoking wearying old tropes, but could one factor be that some, or most, women just don’t have as much spare time as men? Is it still, in the 21st century, the case that women, even now, are carrying out most of the childcare duties – be that children or grandchildren – and doing the bulk of the work around mealtimes? Are women simply juggling more roles than men, so find it harder to find half an hour to sit down in front of a laptop or tablet to compose a letter?

Perhaps it’s not down to a time factor, more a matter of inclination. Could it be that women are less keen to declare their opinions publicly? Is there a perception that telling people what you think – or what THEY should think – is more of a masculine act? Is there more desire to avoid confrontation, even in the mild form of a newspaper letters forum?

A look at Twitter, Facebook and other forms of social media makes me doubt that. There are many confident and powerful female voices out there, though they are still largely outnumbered. Which brings me back to my time theory.

Certainly, we have a number of regular female correspondents who more than hold their own in the daily tussle of our debates – women like Ruth Marr, Jill Stephenson, Margaret Forbes, Catriona C Clark, Isobel Lindsay, Sheila Duffy, Celia Judge and more. But it troubles me that I can just about reel their names off the top of my head.

Whatever the reasons, our discourse is surely the poorer for the shortage of female voices. I would love to hear your theories. And let me know if there’s anything I can do.