The occasion for this and other recent FSP-centric metablogging solipsistic me me me posts is the 5th anniversary of this blog. At such temporal milestones, it seems to be typical to note the event, ponder the past, and evaluate the possible future of a blog.
What I wrote in May 2009 still serves well for a summary of the first few years of this blog (see also August 2008 for a non-anniversary, summertime metablogging post). Below I reprint an excerpt from the anniversary post, and then update it to 2011 (and beyond).
Why & Me (May 2009)
A common request is for me to answer questions (for various purposes) about Why I Blog. I think I've touched on this before in various milestone-type posts, but here is an FSP Timeline detailing the evolution of my motivation and thoughts on blogging:
I blog because I am angry. I spend a lot of time being treated as an inferior species of Science Professor. Even when it shouldn't matter, I am reminded that I am a Female Science Professor (hence the blog name). When I achieve something, it must be because someone had to give that grant/award/position to a woman. I am constantly asked if I am a 'real' professor, and only recently have I gotten senior enough that people stop assuming I am my male co-authors' student or postdoc. I am constantly given administrative tasks that require a lot of time for committees that are led by less competent men, but I am never given any responsibility. When the issue of my being given responsibility arises, I am told that I don't balance research and administrative work as well as men, despite the fact that I excel at balancing these things and more, and that I am "too young", despite my being the same age or older than men who are apparently not too young. One of my favorite colleagues takes another job, and I no longer have as many friends and allies in the department. Blogging is a useful outlet for some of my anger, and I realize that there aren't many senior women scientists blogging. Perhaps I can be a niche-blogger? Does anyone want to hear the rantings of a senior FSP?
Yes, it seems that some people do. I keep blogging because I find that I have a lot to say and more and more people keep reading and making interesting comments. Can anonymous bloggers be role models? Does it help early career scientists to know that you can have a family and a fun and successful career as a science professor, even at a research university? This is my hope. There are still very few senior women scientists blogging, and I think that maybe my perspective, however strange, might be useful to early career scientists and students. Perhaps my writing about the workings of academia can also help bridge the communication/information gap among the various academic groups and generations.
I am still angry but my career is going well in terms of research and teaching and professional service. Many of my colleagues in my department still think of me as a "junior senior professor", but I find ways to enjoy the rest of my professional life and not be quite so angry about my immediate environment. Other universities start to recruit me as a senior hire and this gives me a chance to think about my career and my future and where I want to be scientifically and geographically. I write about all of these issues and this helps me get perspective, and, since the number of readers keeps increasing, this encourages me to continue.
I am much less angry. My department environment changes for the better. I often blog about academic topics that aren't typically discussed, and I have a lot of fun thinking and writing about these. I like writing about the weird things that happen during the day (I had no idea there were quite so many), and to my surprise, I still have a lot to say. I compile the FSP Book, and it surprises me even more that people read it (and review it!). Blogging becomes more of a creative outlet in a positive way than an anger-outlet.
I keep blogging because it is fun.
And as for the rest..
I didn't continue this history in 2010, perhaps because I didn't have much new to add. In 2010, things continued to go well with my career (research, teaching, advising, service), both within and beyond my university. I got older. The biggest blog-event for me in 2010 was that I also started blogging on Scientopia, typically once/week, after finally giving in to blog-peer-pressure to join a Blogging Collective.
When I joined Scientopia, I decided not to be FSP in the new blog, just SP. I also decided that I would not avoid women-in-science topics in my Science Professor blog just because I was dropping the first adjective. That is, I wasn't going relegate femalecentric posts to FSP and write exclusively about general science/academia issues as SP because that would undermine my entire philosophy.
When introducing myself as Science Professor in my new blog on Scientopia in October 2010, I wrote: "I am actually quite comfortable being FSP, but only if I get to define myself that way rather than having this designation be somehow relevant to my qualifications as a scientist."
So, whether writing as FSP or SP, I am the same person with the same values, priorities, and interests. And in fact, a quick classification of the topics of my SP blog posts, from October 2010 through May 2011, shows approximately the same proportion of "general academia" (80-85%), "femalecentric" (10-15%), and "miscellaneous" topics as in FSP 2010.
2011 and beyond
In some ways I've become a bit scattered, with various outlets for my online writing. Although I didn't mention it in 2009, that year I also started writing for The Chronicle of Higher Education, approximately 10 times/year, as Female Science Professor, which The CHE refers to as my "moniker". I've now been doing that for two years, and enjoy it very much. My CHE topics are similar to my blog-topics, and I get a similar mix of positive and hateful comments, just like on the blogs.
Even so, overall I think I present a consistent voice as F/SP. I said above that I am quite comfortable as FSP, but I must admit that I think it is a stupid name. I originally adopted it for ironic reasons, and then it just sort of stuck. I prefer the abbreviation "FSP" to writing out the words. Could I become simply "FSP", just as some corporate entities become their abbreviations or nicknames?
Year ago when I searched on "FSP", this blog was not prominently listed, but now, depending on the search engine/searcher, I show up as high as second after Franklin Street Properties. Elsewhere, I am still listed far below the top global supplier of power supply and power conversion technology and Freight Solution Providers, but ahead of Folsom State Prison.
So that's pretty exciting. But what of the future?
The future is looking pretty complicated, actually. I've got a lot of traveling to do in the next year -- including this summer -- and lots of other new and exciting adventures happening in real life. Also, quite a few people now know my True Identity, and although this is fine with me, it does somewhat affect the range of topics that are in/appropriate to discuss in the blog.
- Is blogging still interesting and fun for me? Yes, it is.
- Are there important topics still to discuss? Are there unimportant (but interesting) topics still to explore? Are there strange polls still to do? Yes, I am sure there must be.
Less resolved questions:
- Keep blogging? Probably, to some extent, but maybe not as often as I have been.
- Blog where? FSP and SP or just one of those? I am reluctant to abandon FSP, even though I know Blogger/Blogspot is annoying for commenters. As a blog author, I much prefer the Blogger (FSP) interface to that of Wordpress (SP/Scientopia). But it would be simpler to just have one blog, especially if I blog less.. ponder ponder ponder.
So that's where we're at this last day of May, 2011, after 5 years of blogging. Thanks for reading.
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