Terra Sigillata

Diversity in the blogosphere

The other day, Coturnix alluded to Simon Owens of Bloggasm and his survey of blogosphere diversity. I neglected to note that I was one of the respondents. Simon’s questions were:

1. What niche does your blog fall into (Examples: Political, gadget, movie, etc…If more than one, please list)?

2. What are the genders of all the bloggers who write for your site?

3. What are the races for all the bloggers who write for your site (if there are any that you’re not sure about, just indicate that you don’t know)?

4. What do you think of the diversity of the blogosphere, both in your niche and as a whole?

His results are here and Simon was kind enough to post my answer to #4, which I reproduce below the fold.

I am quite pleased with the diversity in my part of the blogosphere, especially at ScienceBlogs.com. Diversity of class or stature: we have a great mix of people across the scientific career spectrum, with basic scientists and physicians, as well as graduate students and fellows. Diversity of gender: we are almost 50/50 men and women, and the women are among the most reflective and constructive of the writers, raising the most critical questions and encouraging debate. Diversity of race: we could do better. We have a few brown-skinned folks, Bangledeshi, and “general” African-American, a few Asian-Americans (including one Canadian). I think that we could use some women of color and Hispanic-Americans of either sex.

In general, outside of ScienceBlogs.com, I am pleased to see so many feminist bloggers and female scientists, especially since one of my real-life career interests is increasing the number of women in science and medicine. Outside of blogging, medicine has done particularly well, although we have yet to see women significantly breaking into the upper eschelon of academic medicine administration (Donna Shalala as president of the Univ of Miami, notwithstanding). I was also tickled to see this year’s Lasker Award winners include two visionaries for their work on telomerase, Elizabeth Blackburn and her former student and now Hopkins professor, Carol Greider.

The blogosphere clearly reflects this trend toward women helping women, even if it is not always present in academic science and medicine. I also see many mid-career men like me who blog are learning more about the real problems facing women in science and medicine that we may not necessarily hear in our daily academic lives. My hope is that the community that has developed in the blogosphere will come back and renew the sense of community and mentoring that seems to have been lost in the highly competitive real-world academic environment.