There is much I’d like to write about ScienceOnline2011 and the sessions I participated in. However, there’s already an outstanding blog post by one of my co-panelists Kathryn Clancy that’s a must-read. She hit a home run reporting on our session entitled, “Perils of blogging as a woman under a real name” where we shared the floor with Anne Jefferson and Joanne Manaster. Here’s a sample, but I strongly encourage everyone to visit her blog for the entire piece:
..while I think all my co-panelists had some very important things to say, and some great stories (and awful stalker stories), the audience is what made the panel. Here are a few things they had to say:
- We need to be clear about how bad it really is to write under your own name — some women have had no problems at all where others have been driven out. Depending on the topic you write about and the kind of audience you write for, you will have different experiences, and many women will have only good experiences. We shouldn’t be too negative.
- Some people think writing for a female audience is lame. Apparently there is a listserv of science writers, and about once a year a conversation starts up about whether science writers should write for women’s magazines — apparently many people come down on the side of not thinking science writers should write for them. (My take? Any time anyone says there is anything wrong with writing for women, it is sexist.)
- One fantastic young woman talked about how she avoids discussing her blog with her peers for fear of becoming the “soft skills chick.” Doing anything other than the hottest science seems to delegitimize women very quickly; however in some cases men get rewarded for doing the same thing (examples that come to my mind are picking up extra teaching and service, or having offspring, the latter being empirically supported).
- Robin Lloyd already mentioned this in her article, but Ed Yong attended our panel (one of, I think, only three men). He mentioned that he gets DMed on Twitter regularly by men who want him to Tweet or promote their posts. He said he had never been DMed for promotional reasons by a woman. I was completely flabbergasted by this comment (and I don’t think I was the only one), because it had never occurred to me that I could even do that sort of a thing.
- The brilliant Zuska made several great comments (as Sheril pointed out, she really should have been on the panel!). One that really struck me is that we need to interrogate assumptions about women and provide empirical evidence against them. The reason this came up was that we were discussing where attacks can come from, and how sometimes the attacks come from women as well as men. I believe someone made the comment that women can be worse, and alluded to the idea that women make bad bosses for women. Zuska pointed out that when you look at the evidence male bosses are still worse to women than women are to women. And of course, towards the end of the panel Zuska also used what is likely her most famous and beloved line, “I want to puke on their shoes.”
It was an honor and privilege to spend the hour with such the incredible group of women and men in the room. This is not a new subject, but one I hope we will continue to address on- and offline as science–and the blogosphere–continue to evolve. Now go read Kate’s full post…