Tuesday, May 31, 2011


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.

Resolved questions:

- 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.


Susan B. Anthony said...

Thanks for blogging! I hope you know that it IS useful, helpful, and positive for early-career SPs to read about your experiences.

Anonymous said...

What do you prefer about the Blogger interface for authors? Perhaps you should share that with Wordpress, since Wordpress.com upgrades their writer interface fairly frequently.
(Usually for the better, though some of their changes seem poorly thought out.)

Science Professor Mum said...

I am fascinated by your blogging journey. I confess that I have only recently started reading your blog because I've got to a stage where I've just become a "real" and "full" female science professor myself (albeit in the UK system). I'm not very angry but there are moments when I want to throw things (unlike the women in yesterday's blog). It's the best thing in my day at the moment as it gives me a little space to think about the bigger picture and consider whether my actions and role can be used to help other people's battles. I confess to being a little dismayed at hearing you consider what to do with your multiple identities - I think FSP is great and inspiring (but I read both!). However, I understand that it must now be taking up a lot of your time and you have other adventures to have too. I'd settle for a slightly less regular blog as a compromise

Anonymous said...

Hi FSP, SP, or simply smart, funny, and charming person behind the blog I have read pretty much every day of its existence, that is once you alerted me to it (BTW, I go with FSP). You are the last or first bit of my daily reading, depending on the time I go to sleep. Always interesting, often hilarious, seldom negative, and never boring.

I am very fortunate to have you as my colleague and friend. To all of you out there, can you imagine having FSP's attention on a daily basis?

Wherever blogging takes you, I wish you the very best, especially in the coming year, which should be amazing for you and your family.


mathgirl said...

FSP: you have walked me from a 2nd year postdoc to an assistant professor applying for tenure this year. Thank you so much and keep the good work!!!

GMP said...

Happy 5-year blog anniversary!
You were the first science blogger I started reading and remain my absolute favorite. I also feel there aren't many physical science academic bloggers, especially senior ones; you have addressed some important topics in the physical sciences culture that no one else has tackled, and you have always done so with deep insight and humor.

I hope you will keep blogging, even if less frequently. The scientific/academic blogosphere would not be the same without your voice.

Alex said...

To follow up on what GMP said, you are one of the few bloggers who really tackles the full sweep of academia: Teaching, research, committees, professional organizations, administrivia, staff, life in college communities (e.g. when you blogged about going to a restaurant and running into a student whom you'd busted for something), and so much else. And, as GMP said, you do this from the perspective of a physical scientist. The blogosphere is chock full of biomedical bloggers discussing the details of NIH R2D2 grants. Very few physical scientists are out there discussing what you discuss. I'm not sure that I've ever seen a biomedical blogger say much about teaching undergrads. Also, the blogosphere is chock full of R1 folks with an R1 mindset; you are one of the few academic science bloggers to blog from an R1 while also frequently discussing your experiences as a student and at a SLAC, as well as your experiences teaching at a SLAC before moving to the R1 world. It's just a totally different perspective on academia than we'd get from the rest of the academic science blogosphere. Though I'm at neither a SLAC nor an R1, a lot of what you blog about resonates with my own work, and reinforces how many issues and concerns academics have in common.

There's really nobody else who does what you do. Keep blogging!

Anonymous said...

I am not an early-career scientist, and I really appreciate your blog as someone with whom I can really identify. I often agree with your perspective, and it's delightful to have someone with a very similar career and similar experience to validate my own. It's almost like having lunch or coffee with a like-minded friend every day. Thanks for being there! And personally I'd prefer just one blog so I don't have to chase you down in various places...

Anonymous said...

I enjoy your blog so much because I almost never agree with you. My friends and I all read your blog and we frequently have heated arguments about the issues you bring up. Keep it up FSP.

John Vidale said...

The content, the set of commenters, and your light moderation on FSP are unmatched in the blogosphere for introspection of daily life in a science department.

Keep the blog going, write daily, and keep it here.

Anonymous said...

You have some of the most insightful, rational, well-thought-out, and agreeing-with-my-views posts I find online, especially on gender-related topics but in general as well. Thank you so much for taking the time to write, /think/ and just plow straight ahead professionally, whether it's through a sea of sexism or smooth sailing this time.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I too turn to both SP and FSP every day. I *could* make do with just one if I had to, though!

What I love about your blogs is your thoughtfulness -- you don't just use them for ranting (well, mostly) and you honestly seem to be thinking about things "out loud" rather than picking fights or showing off your knowledge of profanity.

Anonymous said...

Happy Anniversary!! You are still the ONLY science blog that I regularly follow, and I look forward to continuing to read whatever you put out there, wherever it may appear.

Wendy said...

Though I have only come across your blog recently, it's been tremendously helpful to me. I'm a first-year female grad student in a traditionally male-dominated field (though it's becoming much less so in recent years). Your blog has not only enlightened me on various aspects of academia, but also shown me what life may be like for my advisor (who is male, but I think there are many common concerns). I do wish that you will keep blogging, because, like others have pointed out, your blog is one of the best (if not THE best) academic blogs out there. Anyway, thank you!

Anonymous said...

I have found your blog entertaining and valuable and have referred several junior faculty to it. I hope you continue it. However, it seems very reasonable - and probably just as effective at this point - to post less frequently. Perhaps a weekly blog would do nicely.
Thank you.

Dr. T said...

From one pseudonymous professor with a blog to another, I hope you don't reduce your blogging!


Anonymous said...

please keep blogging. yours is the only blog I read everyday and I also direct my friends and students here for general reading and career advice.

Anonymous said...

1. Don't stop blogging at FSP
2. You're second in my Google search--not bad. The JCB, my favorite journal, has fallen to is number three/four after JCB Construction equipment (named after Mr. Joseph Cyril Bambord) and JCB Internationla Credit Card Company.

Mark P

Ace said...

Happy blogaversary.
Still my favorite blog!

Anonymous said...

Yours is the only blog I read everyday. I can settle for less frequency if necessary but please don't stop blogging.

Thanks for all you insights!

AnonEngineeringProf said...

Oh dear! FSP, please don't leave us! I find your blog inspiring, fascinating, and a real pleasure to read. You are irreplaceable. I hope you'll keep blogging as much as ever. -- An Engineering Prof