Thinking about ScienceOnline09 and allies

i-f875c0b07d9b3cb6229668554781b35a-alice.jpgAs I’ve mentioned, I’m co-organizing a session on gender and science blogging, with a particular focus on how we can be allies, as well as on the intersection of gender, race and class in blogging.

The official conversation has been a little slow, but while I’ve been distracted, others have been writing interesting posts, with even more interesting comment threads and responses. I’m hoping bringing it up again will keep the conversation going and might prompt ideas for the ScienceOnline session.

In my last post, ecogeofemme askedhow ally was defined in this context. On one hand, as Lab Lemming implied, one could infer a military connection, and some people might find that analogy appropriate for their experiences. However, I confess that to me in my privileged place in life (straight, white, really really educated), the term “ally” has its roots in the LGBT movement, with supporters of LGBT people being called allies.

Other commenters said that being an ally was simply being a supporter. Do you agree, disagree? To me, there is some question of degree in terms of being a “supporter.” Do you jump into the fire publicly when it starts? Do you send back-channel emails? Do you write blog posts in support? What level of participation makes you be able to claim status as “supporter?”

To me, being an ally is supposed to be a significant commitment – jumping into the fire-level. And I confess at the moment that I try to jump in in face-to-face conversations, but I tend to hide from online fires, in a squelchy-sucky-privelegy-kind of way. I’m looking forward to hearing what other folks do at the session, and maybe learn how to get the courage to stick up for others online.

How about you? Do you consider yourself a blogging ally? Do you have commenters who you identify as allies to yourself, even if they don’t identify as such? What do you do with people who identify as allies somehow, but miss the mark in terms of living up to being one?

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me here.


  1. #1 Silver Fox
    January 4, 2009

    I think maybe one of the questions is whether ally is used to mean allies in blogging, bloggers supporting other bloggers in general, or whether to be an ally one has to support women and minorities in science in particular. At least that was one question that came to my mind when reading through some of the earlier posts and threads. I personally haven’t used or heard the word in either context before, so, like you, am interested to hear what others think.

  2. #2 Darlene
    January 7, 2009

    Hi Alice,
    Curious to know what women scientists and engineers might think about a Sexy Scientists and Engineers photo gallery? I ask because I’m launching one. Goal is to attract both girls and boys, women and men to science and the people behind the science. I suspect I will offend some folks, however…
    Thanks for your thoughts.

  3. #3 Zuska
    January 7, 2009

    A Sexy Scientists and Engineers photo gallery…well, my first thought is that participation in such an endeavor is not going to have an equal effect on, or be viewed equally for, men and women. For men who participate, the effect will be either neutral or positive. For women who participate, the emphasis on the sexiness is likely to contribute to detraction from the science part – she would be taken less seriously unless she is already well-established as a “serious” scientist, has her reputation firmly established. Emphasizing sexiness is undermining of scientific competence for women, it’s an added bonus for men, and that’s the double standard we live with.

    In my experience, young kids who are wanting to learn more about career options in science and engineering are less interested in learning that Scientists are Sexy! and more interested in learning things like scientists have real lives – they go on vacations, they have pets, they play sports, they have hobbies. They want to know, what do you wear to work everyday? Not how hawt are you.

    sorry, I know this is off topic to the post.

New comments have been temporarily disabled. Please check back soon.