Myrmecos

The phylogeny of bug blogging

What happens if you score bug blogs for various characters and crunch them through a phylogenetic analysis?

Morgan Jackson investigates:

i-011e4828d4fec83edae918a8eb5ff2dd-blogphylo1.jpg

Although Morgan’s exercise was tongue-in-cheek, he did uncover a pattern worthy of further exploration:

The last thing I want to comment on is the huge skew between male and female insect bloggers. Of the 58 blogs where I could determine the author’s sex, only 28% of them were written solely by women. Even more concerning perhaps is that 38% of these women bloggers choose to remain anonymous, while not a single male blogger chose to stay private! With studies consistently showing that women are hard pressed in academia and the work place, I wonder if a desire to remain anonymous is a side affect or perhaps defense against further discrimination.

Comments

  1. #1 Joshua King
    April 21, 2010

    The whole system (academia) seems generally biased against women (beyond grad school in particular). That, the patterns of abundance and anonymity among women bloggers versus men follows the same pattern is hardly surprising. The question is, as in academia, what shall we do about it?

  2. #2 TGIQ
    April 21, 2010

    I’m one of the “anonymous female” bloggers. Professionally, I often offer only my initials rather than my full (and obviously female) name for electronic/paper-only communications(e.g., for publication submissions, etc.). While I’ve not been subjected to any bias directed at me PERSONALLY, I am fully aware that inequities exist, and I know I have to play the (hateful) game until things change.
    Students at my university recently conducted a survey of entomology students and professionals. 57% of grad students were female, whereas nearly 80% of working professionals(academic and public sector) were male. There’s an obvious disconnect somewhere, but what is the cause?

    What DO we do about it?

  3. #3 Morgan Jackson
    April 21, 2010

    Thanks for the feature Alex! Hopefully more of the “subjects” will be able to see where they fit in the scheme of things now!

  4. #4 Morgan Jackson
    April 21, 2010

    What I’d like to know is who propagates these inequities? Is it a subset of influential, senior (i.e. old) researchers set in their mens-club ways, or is the attitude towards female scientists more deeply rooted? I know from my dealings with other grad students that there seems to be no bias, and that good science is respected no matter who performed it. I hope/expect that as generation Xers and subsequent cohorts who have grown up in a very tolerant environment attain higher positions in academia, this discrimination against female scientists will diminish. In the meantime, I hope that all female entomologists will continue the great science they are already doing, and make their voices heard!

  5. #5 Bob Kallal
    April 21, 2010

    Hopefully any kind of bias will die out as time goes on. Given the case of TGIQ with more female entomologists than male, gender parity should alleviate this issue.

  6. #6 macromite
    April 21, 2010

    Apparently, I’m anonymously sexless and a sistergroup to a moth blog carnival. Some days it doesn’t pay to get out of bed! But then, at least macromite is at the acme of the lineage that includes BugGirl’s Blog and Myrmecos Blog is clearly a PRIMITIVE ant blog. There, now I feel better.

  7. #7 Alex Wild
    April 21, 2010

    “Myrmecos Blog is clearly a PRIMITIVE ant blog.”

    What, are you trying to get yourself banned?

  8. #8 JasonC.
    April 21, 2010

    But why would women scientists have such discrimnation? Is it perceived ability, or something else? I don’t see how people would see women as less as scientists, or in any way less qualified than men.

  9. #9 Jeffrey
    April 21, 2010

    Very nice!

  10. #10 TGIQ
    April 21, 2010

    “I hope/expect that as generation Xers and subsequent cohorts who have grown up in a very tolerant environment attain higher positions in academia, this discrimination against female scientists will diminish.”

    This is my hope as well, since, like you, I have not experienced or seen discrimination/differential treatment along gender lines amongst my peers, but still see it with members of the “old boys’ club”.

    As an aside: LOL @ macromite…I think I’m in good company up there :-)

  11. #11 Bob Kallal
    April 21, 2010

    If anything, Myrmecos exhibits ancestral ant blogging characters.

  12. #12 Ainsley S
    April 22, 2010

    I’m not sure it’s discrimination so much as self-selection; I can’t speak from experience, but it’s got to be terribly difficult to finish a PhD, move wherever your postdoc(s) take you, get a job, and get tenured in that job while having/raising kids.

    I can think of women who have done it, but they’re almost always part of faculty couples who were able to get jobs at the same school– and they’re relatively rare.

    Of course not everyone is compelled to reproduce, but I do think it’s a significant factor.

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