Favorite Female Science Bloggers

20 09 2007

As I noted the other day, the magazine The Scientist came out with an online article featuring some top science bloggers plugging their favorite life science blogs. As some has noted (Bora has the big list), however, no women life science bloggers were asked to contribute, and even though mention was made of some great blogs written by women, none were asked to contribute commendations for the main piece. Regardless of why women were overlooked, bloggers should not collectively shrug and move on, especially given the number of great science writers online who are female. Regarding this topic, my friend Julia asks whether part of the problem is 1) Anonymity, and/or 2) women who are scientists but do not write about science (the article was about life science blogs rather than all science blogs or academic blogs or all blogs in a general sense). Despite the narrower life science scope there are still plenty of great writers, male and female, and it would be hoped that a group asked to give recommendations would have reflected the actual diversity of life-science oriented bloggers.

In any event, I don’t want this post to be as much about the controversy surrounding The Scientist article as much as a look at some of my favorite female science bloggers. In fact, some of these bloggers have become some of my best friends on the internet and have been especially helpful in keeping me abreast of interesting stories and allowing me to share ideas with them, and while I am not as close with others on my short list I still admire their work.

~The Ethical Palaeontologist, a blog so fine that it makes me want to stop spelling the word “paleontology” and start spelling it “palaeontology.” My own spelling dilemmas aside, Julia runs a wonderful blog full of insight and humor (plus cool critters every Thursday), and her help has been invaluable in my own studies. A good friend and a great blogger, you’re really missing out if you’re not reading Julia’s work.

~The RedMolly Picayune-Democrat, a wonderful blog written by my friend Molly, full of witty passages, homeschooling discussions, and tales of (shared) frustration in trying to write a book, among other things (there’s nothing like a good 80’s off every now and then…). I had the luck of becoming acquainted with Molly this past spring when she had asked a question about cheetahs on behalf of her son, and she’s been sending me tidbits of natural history news gleaned from hither and yon (as well as awesome software, thanks again Molly!) ever since. No matter what you’re interested in, Molly’s blog always provides a pleasant read, and I can’t stress my endorsement of her work enough.

~Pondering Pikaia, an absolutely terrific science blog run by a fellow undergraduate student, Anne Marie. I have been floored by the excellent writing and good research exhibited on her blog ever since its inception this past May(!), and she definitely gives other science bloggers a run for their money. Indeed, Anne Marie is living proof that undergraduates can be great science writers too, and it will be a pleasure to be on a panel with her at the upcoming Science Blogging Conference (are you signed up yet?).

~Retrospectacle is an impressive neuroscience-oriented blog run by Shelly Batts, who I’ll also be joining for the panel on student blogging in January. Making it all the way to ScienceBlogs is impressive in and of itself, but the superb writing up on display continues to push the high-quality envelope.

~Living the Scientific Life, written by GrrlScientist, is another blog that’s part of the esteemed ScienceBlogs community, and it’s easy to see why. Beautiful pictures posted daily, excellent writing on mental health issues, and plenty of posts that are just plain fun to read round out a blog that always has something surprising when I enter the URL in my destination bar.

Bug Girl’s Blog, written by the Bug Girl (of course), covers a whole world of organisms with which I am only barely acquainted. From fireflies to spiders that work together to build massive webs, if you like inverts and aren’t reading her blog you’re really missing out. She’s also perhaps one of the foremost authorities (if not the foremost authority) in the blogosphere on DDT and I am ever-impressed with her knowledge of all things entomological. If that wasn’t enough, she’s had plenty of kind words for me and my own writing, giving me a bit of a boost during a rough start to this semester, proving that blogging is as much about community as it is about what shows up when you hit the “publish” button.

And last but not least…

~The Anterior Commissure, written by Kate, is definitely a science blog that the Rutgers community can be proud of. Kate’s recent post on a Reuter’s article about Viagra is enough in and of itself to make the blog worthy of special note (scarcely have I seen science summed up so well and with so much wit to make me literally LOL), but the whole thing is a trove of excellent writing. It might be overdoing things a bit, plugging the blog twice in one day, but it is only fair to give credit where it is due.

So that’s my short list; it’s not meant to be exhaustive, but merely to represent the work of just a few of the women out there generating some excellent writing (be it about science or not).

Update: I can’t believe that I forgot the ever-wonderful Fish Feet by Sarda. She took a little time off (hence my mental slip), but is now back in full swing and will soon be hosting The Boneyard (get those posts in!). She always has something new and interesting to say, written in a way that shows she has really thought about the subject rather than just repeating what’s already been done. Make sure you give her blog a look!


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10 responses

20 09 2007
skeptic4u

I’ve subscribed to your RSS feed, how do I get your website to send me emails when you update? Another question, have you written anything on racism and darwinism. I personally believe they are independent lines of reasoning, but do you think Origins of Species promotes racism in some way? I’m arguing about it at my xanga. This person I’m arguing with says (in response to [bolded]):

In reponse to: “Virtually all Englishmen in Darwin’s time viewed blacks as culturally and intellectually inferior to Europeans.” (from creationist claims from Talk Origins)

the person says: “So Darwin was a product of his times? That does not bode well for his theory.”

In response to: “Racism is thousands of years older than the theory of evolution, and its prevalence has probably decreased since Darwin’s day; certainly slavery is much less now. That is the opposite of what we would expect if evolution promotes racism.”

the person says:

“A. While discrimination has existed for millennia, it was not based on race until the recent past, before that, it was based largely on political affiliation.
B. The decreaseing prevelance of racism is a myth. While it may have changed froms over the years to conform in our PC world, it exists non the less.”

I’m not going to place anymore of this on your blog unless I know its okay with you Laelaps.

20 09 2007
Peter Teiman

Peter Teiman here.
I agree that female scientists have an are still significantly prejudiced against.
Peter Teiman
http://www.freewebs.com/peterteiman/

20 09 2007
Anne-Marie

Hey, thanks so much for the plug! I’ve noticed that there are more male bloggers also, but had honestly never given it much thought before the recent attention to the issue after the incident with The Scientist. Maybe for me it seems normal, at my university the majority of the professors in the biology department are male and so a skewed sex ratio of science bloggers didn’t really stand out to me.
I don’t have time to visit science discussion forums anymore, but in the past when I did I always used a screen name that was gender-neutral, afraid that with my age and my gender combined I wouldn’t be taken as seriously as I felt like I should be.

And yes, I am registering for the conference, I’ll look forward to seeing you there!

21 09 2007
Shelley

Hi Brian, thanks for the mention. Looking forward to meeting you at the Blogging Conference!

21 09 2007
Julia

Thank you as always for the plug! Of course, you are one of my favourite male science bloggers…

And you know that extra “a” is just a keystroke away!

21 09 2007
laelaps

Thank you for the comments and compliments everyone; I’m looking forward to meeting many of your at the January conference. I guess I’m a bit spoiled because soon after I started to blog I ran into many female writers so I didn’t think too much about who was or wasn’t getting attention; I just went where the good writing was and didn’t think much about it otherwise. I’m sure there are lots of factors (as Julia noted in her post), but regardless of the larger discussion I would have hoped that The Scientist would have picked at least one woman to feature.

Skeptic; you should turn the comments into a blog or link to where they are at. On the racism issue, it was present long before Darwin (it’s even in the Bible, especially in verses mentioning how to treat slaves from other regions), and Darwin’s work is meant to describe nature, not how humans should act. Saying “This is the way animals act (or nature acts), so therefore it must be right” is a fallacy and cheapens us all, and such reasoning is in no way what Darwin intended. Evolutionary studies time and time again have shown that all people today belong to one species, Homo sapiens, despite characteristic regional variations. This was not always so, inherent racism influencing some ideas of human origins (like H.F. Osborn’s ideas about the origins of all mammal groups), but Darwin’s theory of natural selection was not born out of nor designed to support racism.

21 09 2007
GrrlScientist

wow, thanks for the mention! how sweet of you to think of me!

but don’t forget that i actually write about a lot more than bipolar disorder; i write about birds and evolution as well! and i also write “cool animal stories” because people love reading about animals as much as i love writing about them.

21 09 2007
laelaps

Thanks for the comment! I apologize if I missed anything (I was just trying to play up the unique features so I wasn’t merely saying “I like this one, this one’s nice too, this one’s nice” for each blog on here), although as you can see I think just about everyone should be reading your blog.

22 09 2007
kate

thanks so much! i’m so delighted that i’ve found another kindred blog spirit…

4 05 2009
Infakly

nice! i’m gonna make my own blog

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