10 May 2011

speaking of #scimom...

The Wandering Scientist reads my "reflections" post and says I left out #scimom's who don't work in academia.  It's a valid point. And she's been paying attention to this a lot longer than I have - and not just because she's actually a #scimom.  Back in 2009 she put together perhaps the first #scimom list.

She says academic #scimoms can be more visible in the blogosphere and are more able to write about their work.   And she says being a mom prompts some to take you less seriously at work.   I think perspectives vary a bit on this (the CEO of the company where I work is a proud mom and grandmother), though I understand her point.

I'm curious to know what #scimoms think.  The impression I get is a lot of #scimoms write under a pseudonym whether they're academic or not.  Again just my impression but I get the feeling that anonymity has declined in the mom-o-sphere generally as it's grown more commercialized, but #scimom's still see a significant downside to sharing their names.

I know this topic has been the subject of much discussion at ScienceOnline and elsewhere.  I come from a different online community - public relations and issues management - where transparency is paramount and hiding your identity means hiding your true interests.  So it's hard for me to accept.  But that doesn't make this any less real.   Again, curious to know more about what others think.

1 comment:

Cloud said...

Thanks for the shout out! I certainly was not offended about the absence of non-academic scimoms from the original post, but if part of the goal is to let young women know that there are scientist who are mothers out here, then we should include all types of scientists.

That initial list was actually written in frustration at hearing over and over that it was "impossible" to combine a career in science with motherhood. I was essentially being told that my life was impossible, and it didn't feel that way to me at all.

I think women have a lot of reasons for blogging under a pseudonym.

I know that some female tech bloggers blog under a pseudonym because they are worried about stalkers/ aggressive trolls following them into real life. There was a really high profile case of this a while back. Unfortunately, I can't remember the blogger's name, which would probably make her happy.

I can't blog about my actual work, no matter how I do it. I have signed confidentiality agreements that preclude me speaking or writing in public about the details of my work.

There are a few pharma/biotech industry bloggers who blog about industry trends and the like- Derek Lowe at In the Pipeline is probably the most prominent example. However, as far as I know, all of these bloggers are male. I don't know the reason for this, but if I had to guess, I'd guess that women are afraid of seeming like they are not dedicating enough time to work. We already field charges that we don't take our work seriously if we, for instance, leave "early" to pick our kids up at day care. I have a good arrangement in this regard now, but I am painfully aware of the fact that this is at least partially due to luck in who my boss is. There is no way I'd stick my neck out further just to blog under my own name.

And then there is the fact that many of the things I choose to blog about are related to motherhood itself, and yes, that could negatively impact my career. Imagine if a prospective employer googled my name and found a bunch of posts about sleep deprivation. I don't think that would do me much good.

Finally, since I blog about my kids, I use a pseudonym to protect their privacy. I also never post pictures that show their faces (or my face). This was a request from my husband.

I have some thoughts about why there hasn't been much cross-talk from the #scimom meme, but I think this comment is long enough already. Maybe I'll get the time to write a post about it.

Thanks for setting up the meme, though- I think it has been a useful thing, and it has been fun finding some new blogs.