Talking about female science bloggers with a friend of mine, I suddenly noticed that not many of the science blogs that I read on a regular basis are written by female science bloggers. As I support equality and am therefore a feminist, I was rather shocked to find this bias in my own views, albeit subconscious.
Now, let me start by saying that I am in no way saying that there is no merit to male science bloggers or that their blogs should be boycotted. It just seemed odd to me that male science bloggers were so much more out there. Could it be that the number of male science bloggers is so much greater than that of females that it trickles down proportionally to the attention of the public? Or is the sexism very much present in the science industry making itself shown?
I went about trying to find female science writers and noted that within many of the mainstream media news websites, the number of male science writers is indeed much higher than that of their female counterparts. The even more scary thing about it, is that I didn’t have to dig too deep to find the discrepancy.
It seems that when it comes to science blogs, these discrepancies are no different. They can be found on not only the number of blog websites or articles themselves but in the disproportional attention that male written blog posts receive. In 2010, Martin Robbins wrote an article for the guardian making reference to a blog post written by Jenny Rohn that argued that celebrated science bloggers were predominantly male. Although the blog post itself is no longer available, Robbins set out to find female science bloggers and provided us with a list of 50 female written science blogs - and yes, I had a look at all of them.
Robbins’ article was written in 2010 so naturally, some of the blogs are no longer available. However, the vast majority of them were not only still available but had also been recently updated. Although this would seem like good news on the face of it, I was not exactly surprised. Like many other science bloggers, I write because I like the idea of sharing knowledge and promoting science, especially wildlife science, in a positive light. However, most of the blogs that I looked at had one distinctive thing in common. Something, that I too am guilty of - lack of exposure and ‘marketing’.
It is no secret that in general, science blogs tend to be lacking in the design department (unless they are being hosted by a particular blogging collective platform). I would say that this applies to blogs written by both female and male writers. However, when it comes to designing a science blog when you are a woman, I have personally gone through a few things that I doubt my male counterparts have.
When I decided to start my blog, I wanted to ensure that the focus was on the content itself. That my message was clear and that most of all, it could be particularly informative and inspiring to people who aren’t in science. However, I would be lying if I said that I didn’t also try to ensure that the blog wasn’t overly ‘girly’ - and the reason for this was rather obvious - I wanted to be taken seriously. In fact, when I first started, I avoided using my own name because I didn’t want people to have any sort of preconceptions before they even read what I had to say. I don’t know every female blogger out there but I would bet that at least a few of them have, consciously or subconsciously, gone through something similar.
How sad for our society that women still feel the need to either be girly or curb any ‘girlyness’ in order to avoid judgement. Even sadder is the lack of credibility that one might have due to one’s gender, sexuality or ethnicity rather than their aptitudes, knowledge, experience and many times, extensive studies.
To end this post, I would like to share with you a female blogger that I wish received a lot more attention. Granted her blog is not necessarily science focused but Kay herself has a strong science background and the Issues she raises always make me think and question society and my own actions and thoughts. After all, in my opinion, the willingness to question and be questioned is an important part of science.
Kay beautifully opens up about her experiences in life to help us all be less prejudiced. I actually came about her blog fairly recently and it was because of the latest blog post she wrote titled 'It was just a joke'. I would definitely recommend a read and believe that society would benefit hugely from her message.