It recently dawned on me that a lot of time had passed since I had surveyed the general categories of my blog posts. I last did this in January 2010, using data from all 2009 blog posts. So, even though 2011 is well underway, last weekend I decided to go back and categorize the 2010 posts and see if there had been any changes from 2008 or 2009.
As before, I used very general bins for classifying post topics. I first went through this exercise a few years ago because I kept getting comments to the effect of "You only talk about sexism/feminism/women". Well, even if I did, so what? But I knew that "only" was an exaggeration, and I was curious what the data were.
It turns out that in each of the years 2008 and 2009, about 20% of my posts were on the broad topic of women-in-science, sexism, feminism etc. The majority of posts were about general academic issues, and a small number were about cats or miscellaneous subjects.
As in my previous attempts at categorizing posts, I encountered some posts that were difficult to classify. Examples from 2010: Are posts about two-career couples 'general academia' or 'women/feminism'? I would say 'general academia', but what if I focused mostly on the issue of women as 'trailing spouses'? And what about a post in which I criticized tenure-track professors who blame their lack of productivity on their male grad students or postdocs whose wives have babies and therefore imperil the career of the advisor/mentor? Was that a femalecentric post? Not really.. but even so, as I have did in my previous surveys, I classified all of these under 'women/feminism/etc.'
Even with that felxible definition of femalecentric posts, my 2010 data are:
general academia: 83%
I was surprised by this. I thought the proportion of posts about women-in-science, sexism etc. would be higher. Perhaps I overestimated because the femalecentric posts tend to attract the most vicious and bizarre comments, so they loom larger in my mind? Or perhaps the last few years are all a blur to me, and, since I don't remember what I wrote about last week, why should I expect that I'd have a good idea for what I wrote about in 2010?
I don't know. I obviously don't have any particular Plan when it comes to topics. I write about whatever I feel like at a particular time/place, heeding some requests from readers. Part of the explanation may relate to the fact that I write about once/week as Science Professor in the Scientopia blog collective, but at least some of these posts are femalecentric (and I included all the SciProf/Scientopia posts in my accounting), so I don't think that is a sufficient explanation. Perhaps there is no meaningful explanation.
Or: Perhaps the decline in femalecentric posts is related to my advancing age?
Tune in tomorrow, when I answer the question: At what age did most people start taking you seriously (as a science professor)?
10 years ago