Coffee, good food, and the world’s best popsicles – these were just a few of the perks associated with attending the 2008 North Carolina Science Blogging Conference! Not to mention mingling with 200 other bloggers, journalists, educators, and students. I’ve been so out of touch with the blogging world for so long recently; it was delightful to feel the energy and ideas sparking off each other. Plus, I got to meet Sciencewoman and Minnow!
Karen Ventii and I had planned to webcast our session on Gender and Race in Science Blogging, and we did, in a manner of speaking…unfortunately, it didn’t work as we would have liked. We found ourselves limited by the equipment we had available. Next time, better equipment, or I wouldn’t bother.
It’s a pity, because we had a great discussion. Karen, Sciencewoman, and Pat Campbell each gave a great talk, and the audience was wonderful, participating in a vigorous discussion that ran 5 minutes past the end of our session time, and would have gone on longer if we hadn’t had to call a halt.
One topic that got a lot of discussion was how and when you make the decision to speak up about gender inequity. Ivan Oranksy of The Scientist commented that journalists are hampered in their ability to report on episodes of gender inequity if women are unwilling to speak on the record. (more after the jump)
Other audience members debated the pros and cons of speaking “on the record” and there was much talk about the risks of speaking out, especially for women in the early stages of their career. Some pointed to Nancy Hopkins as an example of how it is possible to speak out and effect real change. Pat Campbell reminded us that (1) Nancy Hopkins is a very senior, tenured professor and (2) speaking out did not come without a cost to her. There were (and are) very real costs she has paid for her advocacy. Pat advised that making the decision to speak out needs to be a well-informed one: what will I risk? is it worth it? can I live with the potential consequences? I noted that not having a job is something that makes me more comfortable with being as outspoken as I am on this blog. It’s not the right choice for everyone, and you have to pick your battles.
Another related topic of discussion was the question of blogging under a pseudonym – why so many women science bloggers choose to do so, and what are the consequences. Blogging under one’s own name, or blogging pseudonymously, there are advantages and constraints to both. For a very nice discussion of the dilemma, see Mrs. Whatsit’s recent post on anonymity.
There was so much more…I wish you all could have been there, and I’m sorry the webcasting didn’t work out so well.