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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Great Blogs by Women in Science

What's the day-to-day like for women in science or engineering?

I don't know, ask them. They're out there, doing science, living life, and blogging about it.

For chemistry aficionados, Michelle Francl-Donnay (@MichelleFrancl) at The Culture of Chemistry has a real knack for finding topics in language, teaching, and politics that relate to chemistry in an exciting way. Raychelle Burks (@DrRubidium) of Thirty-Seven is an analytical chemist who does fantastic outreach in support of increasing STEM's inclusiveness towards women, people of color, and LGBTQ folks. Kat Day (@chronicleflask) of the chronicle flask has already called BS on one overhyped health article this year (and blogs a lot of other great chemistry stuff). Beth Haas (@belehaa) at Casual Science and Jenny Martin at cubistcrystal blog their reflections on their careers as chemists and educators, and Anna (@Lady_Beaker) at Chemistry Intersection is documenting her quest for a Ph. D. Jyllian Kemsley (@jkemsley) covers chemical safety in industry and academia for Chemical & Engineering News's The Safety Zone. Stephani Page (@ThePurplePage) runs the blog #BLACKandSTEM. The husband and wife team of Geoffrey and Ruth Bowers (@CarChemProf) is behind Understanding Chemistry through Cars, which has a great perspective combining knowledge of the automotive industry with some of its fundamental chemistry. Last, but not least, Carmen Drahl (@carmendrahl) covers exciting and timely chemistry news at Forbes.

There are great blogs covering topics in other areas of science as well. Thus Spake Zuska (@TSZuska) writes beautifully, relaying stories and perspectives from STEM, politics, personal life, and the areas between. Ulli Hain (@ulli_hain) at Science Extracted covers a range of topics in research with an emphasis on ethics. The women of Portrait of the Scientist document their lives as they pursue a number of different science and science-adjacent paths.

Finally, leveling the playing field for women in STEM is an area for activism and outreach as well as personal reflection. STEM Women (@STEMWomen) is a team of three scientists who aim to bring female scientists together and increase their visibility to the public through blogs, videos, and other great content. Soapbox Science (@SoapboxScience) is a media initiative doing much the same by bringing scientists from around the UK "to the soapbox" to talk about their lives and careers in public presentations. And, unless you just plain hate joy, you've got to follow GeekGirlCon (@GeekGirlCon).

I originally wanted to put this blogroll together to raise awareness of sexual harassment and sexual assault in scientific workplaces. But here's the whole story on that: it happens. A lot. It happens in lecture halls and on research cruises and in meetings and on archaeological digs. It happens to women and scientists of all demographics. Sometimes it's not a secret. It has almost assuredly happened to someone you know. It's unacceptable, it's repugnant, it needs to stop.
The links above are, for the most part, to stories from larger outlets dealing with statistics and responses to well-publicized cases. I wanted to go out and find survivors who have shared their stories, to point out that yes, this happens to real people and it's an intensely personal issue.

I abandoned that search without having found very much. And of course not, I thought. The stakes of publishing a post like that are too high, the emotions too real, and the internet atmosphere too hostile. In the event an investigation actually does get started, it can be a nightmare for the complainant, and it's too easy to misstep.

But how about this stunning revelation? Scientists don't want to write about sexual harassment. These women didn't start science blogs so they could write posts about how hostile their work environments are. They didn't sign up to be scientists so that they could be harassed or worse. We - all of us - became scientists because we're fascinated by some aspect of the material or social world and we want to poke it with a stick. That experience is what scientist-bloggers are publishing about.

Normalizing marginalized voices in our scientific community is critical to achieving equality. Add some of these excellent writers to your feeds. They all speak for themselves.

Special thanks to Beth Haas, Jyllian Kemsley, Chemjobber, Renee Webster, and the rest of Chemistry Twitter for helping me find all of these bloggers. If you know of someone else that I've left off, feel free to add in the comments.

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