One of the things I thought about on our road trip was the role that blogging plays in my life. In case it hasn't been totally obvious, I have not had much of a blogging groove over the summer, despite the appearance of more time.
I realized that I need to actually build in blogging time into my schedule (yikes!) to be able to meet the commitment I made to Science Woman, but I also realized that blogging time would allow me to record some of my reflections on "how things are going."
However, I also have been having lots of stuff going on IR-working-L that I haven't known how to blog about because I blog under my real name. Science Woman and I have had some good discussions about the values and challenges of pseudonymity/real name blogging -- although I do feel freer in blogging as myself in some ways, in others I feel completely muzzled. I don't blog much about my husband in part because I don't want to compare him to Sci Wo's, and in part because he can't hide behind a pseudonym. I don't blog about the challenges I have with my colleagues (and there are some) because they will read this. I don't blog about questions I really have about my ability to do my job because future/current graduate students or future/current colleagues will read it.
But neither does Sci Wo, in case it identifies her. Either way, y'all get a skewed picture of what academic life is, even when embodied by 2 people committed to doing it differently, as is suggested by our blog banner.
It was through all this convoluted reasoning, as well as recognizing that my P&T committee, if they spend enough time on the internet looking up my past blogging selves to realize I wrote some angry ranty posts a few years ago, then clearly my P&T case is not strong enough anyway, that I decided to officially come out of the blogging closet. However, it will be probably no surprise to most of you.
I started my blogging career as "skookumchick" of Rants of a Feminist Engineer. I started reading blogs around April 2006, and registered Rants on Blogger when the name came to me in a flash, as it were. First I used it to explore the possibility for being both feminist and an engineer, as I was basing my dissertation on the exploration of the construct of "engineering" and noticing that anything that had to do with women's work seemed not to "count" as engineering.
Then I used my blog as a place to record my research progress, and to not be so alone. I was a lonely grad student living in a town where I didn't know anyone, often away from the town where all my friends and colleagues were, and I found friendship and collegiality from the women in science blog community.
Eventually, somehow, I built up a readership, including the fabulous Science Woman, among many other cool folks. At some point, it hit me that we really did have a cool community, and that maybe we should start a blog carnival. Shortly after, in February 2007, Scientiae was born, with a lot of support and help from women STEM bloggers. I can hardly believe it is still rolling along, again with the help of great hosts. (I understand Academic is still planning to have a "call for posts" for a September 1 carnival; watch this space, and I'll repost as soon as I see her announcement.)
And then came the job search. I knew that writing about my job search would be helpful for others, but worried that my specificity of field would completely identify me. Once I got my job, it became even more difficult to blog pseudonymously, even though the COMPLETE CHAOS of the first semester as an assistant professor again might be useful reading for others. But I could barely get through the day, let alone find cognitive space to blog.
It was around January 2008 (I think? SciWo, what do you remember?) that ScienceWoman contacted me about coblogging here. She was also struggling with finding time to blog, and had a kidlet (the lovely Minnow, of course) on top of starting the assistant professor gig, and we agreed we could support each other and combine blogging forces to help each other out. I am so very grateful for that invitation.
The invitation came with the opportunity to start blogging under my real name, and after some soul searching, I decided to take it. But I missed my pseudonymous identity, and did not want to let skookumchick go.
Much much later, I decided to make my Rants blog "private" so the posts could no longer be accessed directly. After more musing, I figured anyone on my P&T committee messing with the Wayback Machine was looking for a reason to not like me, meaning I didn't do a good enough job convincing them of my worth anyway. And blogging as my self hasn't stopped people from disagreeing with me vehemently either, so I'm not afraid of others bringing up the past as archived in the Wayback Machine. (I think... please don't test this. :-) )
And as I traveled throughout the west, I thought more on how I actually would be ok about acknowledging my past blogging self, also realizing that it was probably the biggest deal to me but no one else would likely care.
So. For myself: I am still skookumchick. I still want to rant occasionally, but will do so under my own name. And I will gain strength from honouring my namesake: the mighty Skookumchuck, "strong waters."
I admire you Alice, for your courage and honesty.
YAY Alice! It's important to identify and characterize the power relations operating between P&T processes and junior faculty. I think you are right to claim the power of your blogging past and refuse to give in to the fear of how it might be used against you. Because of these power relations, I worry about your hypothetical that if an institution doesn't give a candidate tenure, it would be because the candidate didn't do a good enough job communicating their work's value. I know too many cases where tenure was denied on petty grounds, on political grounds, or for other reasons that simply can't be put on the candidate, no matter how much the committee and institution try to do so...
Very brave thing to do. Well done. You, the real life you, deserves credit for Scientiae Carnival. Your blog voice is a very valuable one in the community and I know that I, for one, would be perfectly willing to talk about that value if you ever needed some bloggy recommendation letters to convince your P&T committee!
You are a bad-ass! w00t!
The Scientiae call for posts is up! Looking forward to seeing what people submit. Deadline is 4 Sept.
Wow, Alice, you continue to impress me with your bravery and honesty. It is an honor and a pleasure to blog with you - the mutual support system has been invaluable.
Yay, skooks. I'm incredibly impressed with your bravery. It takes a lot to come out like that.
Yay! Well done. So nice to see you get public credit for creating Scientiae, which has been such a great gift to the women in science/engineering blogging community. I'm proud to know you and call you friend.
So glad you decided to share Alice! The blogosphere is better with you in it :).
I am shocked, shocked to find out who you are!
well done. I look forward to seeing how this works for you.
Well, that explains why I couldn't read Rants of Feminist Engineer when I tried some months ago from someone's blogroll. You and ScienceWoman definitely make me think about the pros and cons of blogging pseudonymously. I wonder if I'll get to the point where I reveal my true and blogger identities to be one and the same.
Like Ivan, I am astonished. Shocked and astonished, even! ;->
Excellent post (as always), and keep us all updated on how it goes.
I am so, so glad that you are back blogging more frequently. Aside from being one of my favoritest blog people, your writing is a tremendous asset to us other poor womenz in STEM.
Maybe someday I'll come out.....