ZOMFG!!! There Are Women Science Bloggers!!!!11!1!!

The interoobs have discovered (again) that women write science blogs!

Excellent summary, with even more excellent commentary, by Kathryn Clancy of Context and Variation, here.

Here's what I think. From the bottom of my cynical hairy-legged heart:

On the one hand, things like stamping your post OfficialScienceBloggingEleventy!!!1!!1!! are perhaps great for helping the lay reading audience identify blog posts that are about Serious Science by Serious Science Writers and that can be Trusted to be True and Reliable. On the other hand, one can also view the move to encourage bloggers to register at OfficialScienceBloggingEleventy!!!1!!1!! and stamp their appropriately vetted posts as a move towards increasing professionalization of the science blogosphere. You don't think it is? Can you write a "serious" blog post on a research paper now and not stamp your blog post OfficialScienceBloggingEleventy!!!1!!1!! ?  If you don't, what does it mean or signify - not to the lay audience, who doesn't really know, but to your fellow (and they are, as we have learned, predominantly fellows) science bloggers?

The refusal to allow pseudonymous bloggers at editorially gate-kept high-profile media-related blogging network sites is another bit of increasing professionalization.

In general, these two trends will tend to exclude writing by Others, including writing about life on the ground as an Other in science.

Historically, increasing professionalization has always operated to exclude non-white, non-males - sometimes accidentally, sometimes quite intentionally. The history of increasing professionalization in engineering over the late 1800's to mid-century 1900's is astonishing in this regard, and the engineering old boys club was quite strategic and explicit in its desire to use professionalization as a means to keep out women and shopmen, who were lower class, from the emerging "profession" of engineering. (There were so few non-whites trying to enter the profession that it was hardly necessary to mount a specific campaign against them, but they of course were not welcome either.) One source for part of this story is Making Technology Masculine by Ruth Oldenziel.

The desire to recruit "big names" to the media blogging networks will also tend to exclude Others since we all tend to have a difficult time perceiving Others as Big Names even when they are doing exactly the same things as White D00ds, pseudonymously or not.

A few things could happen at this point:

(1) Intense navel gazing could continue for a brief time, then the ADD blogosphere moves on to other stuff as soon as the next distraction appears.

(2) Intense navel gazing could continue and lead to something more sustained if this is the blogospheric equivalent of the MIT report.

In either case, the actual makeup of the high profile blogging networks will change very little, just as the actual makeup of the faculty at the top 50 STEM institutions has changed very little since the MIT report and subsequent meetings and reports and conferences and committees and discussions and the horrified pearl-clutching angst of the rightwing wackaloons that activist feminists are destroying American science as we know it.

Blogging while Other, and blogging about life in science and about diversity issues will continue, and continue to go on mostly underneath the radar of the High Profiles and the Important Networks and the OfficialScienceBloggingEleventy!!!1!!1!! sites, and every so often there will be yet another "where are all the Whatever bloggers?" and a call to make a list, or a roundup, which will be done, and people will point to it proudly in public, and everyone will pat themselves on the back for having noticed, and in private, the people that matter will say, yeah, but who's ever heard of any of those blogs? If they were any good, they'd be as famous as PZ, and already on Another Big Blog Network, and I'd already be reading them.

10 responses so far

  • thebewilderness says:

    On the contrary, my friend, it has always been quite intentional. Clearly demonstrated by the fact that if one exclusion strategy was unsuccessful another would be promptly adopted.
    How to Silence Women’s Writing by Joanna Russ.

    “She didn’t write it.
    She wrote it but she shouldn’t have.
    She wrote it but look what she wrote about.
    She wrote it but she isn’t really an artist, and it isn’t really art .
    She wrote it but she had help.
    She wrote it but she’s an anomaly.
    She wrote it BUT…”

  • KBHC says:

    Thanks so much for linking to my post and sharing your thinking on this. I do hope women sciencebloggers, pseudonymous or otherwise, get more exposure as a result. Most of the most important female voices in the science blogosphere have been pseudonymous, at least for my development as a reader and writer. And I'm glad that our friendfeed will get more attention too, since that is a way of aggregating posts without their having to include literature citations (meaning they can be about the process of science, or the life of science, as well).

    And that Joanna Russ quote is disturbing in its accuracy.

  • jc says:

    She wrote it but she sucks as a writer.
    She wrote it but she was PMSing.
    She wrote it but he told her what to put.
    She wrote it but she didn't ask permission from him.
    She wrote it but she wasn't polite.
    She wrote it but she lied.
    She wrote it but she's a bitch.
    She wrote it but she copied from him.
    She wrote it but had no business doing so.
    She wrote it but it's not official.
    She wrote it but she's not that smart.
    She wrote it but he will rewrite it.

  • The refusal to allow pseudonymous bloggers at editorially gate-kept high-profile media-related blogging network sites is another bit of increasing professionalization.

    i'm not sure who you are referring to here, but both nature network and the guardian allow pseudonymous blog writers.

  • Marcus says:

    "where are all the Whatever bloggers"

    I've sat through several rounds of that.

    I admit, the anonymity issue is part of it for me. I can't even go half way and reveal a few details about my field because it would be very easy to narrow it down to me (and my doppelganger buddy). So either I go full out anon or put my real name on it. I can't see using my real name pre-tenure.

    anon, whatever blogger

  • Vicki says:

    Bibliographic nitpick: The Russ is How to Suppress Women's Writing. I'm putting this here to help people find the book, which is well worth reading.

  • thebewilderness says:

    Sorry Vicki,
    and thank you.

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  • Kim says:

    I hope that the people who are professionalizing blogs don't cite the article that Anne, Pat, you, and I just published as evidence for the value of blogging to women geoscientists. Because I don't think that the professionalized blogs have those particular benefits - I think that the benefits that we saw came from the women-in-science blogs. (There are benefits to the science blogs that are more like traditional science journalism, too, but the benefits are different.)

    I finally commented on the pseudonymity question (bothering me since last December): http://shearsensibility.blogspot.com/2010/09/why-pseudonymity-matters.html . It's only partly related to the current discussion... but I don't know if men experience the same costs to blogging under their real name (and to blogging on prominent networks) that women do. (My experience on Sb was that the costs far out-weighed the benefits, and I regret having joined the network.)