I have some quick news to report, then it's back to the Powerpoint and talk I'm working on for Sam's school, some sort of still semi-amorphous topic on critical thinking, the reliablity of information, and objectivity in journalism. It's my last and final one since their private school gets out the following week. You heard that right - holy cow! It's almost summer vacation!!
I'm completely tickled and honored that Dr. Isis printed my essay "On Being a Woman in Science" as the third in her "Letters to our Daughters Project" on her Scienceblogs.com blog, On Becoming a Domestic and Laboratory Goddess. She's a pseudonymous professor of physiology at a major research university. I tried to get this essay published in many outlets, but no one bit. So it's gratifying to finally see it somewhere other than my own blog, where I think I posted it a while back. And it's gotten some cool feedback in the comments; finally, others who undersatnd the dilemmas of being a woman in science! I love her blog. It's very witty and smart, and she writes about stuff that is very much relevant for any woman professional, not just scientists, but definitely these issues come out more in science because well, maybe you just have to go through a science graduate degree to understand that.
Dr. Isis introduces my letter with the very kind paragraph:
Today's letter comes from science journalist and biologist Wendee Holtcamp. Wendee is a freelance science writer published in Scientific American, Audubon, Smithsonian and others. She is Animal Planet's news blogger and a contributing writer for Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine. She was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow at Rice University, achieved Ph.D. candidacy, but left the program after a divorce. Her blogspot blog is here. What I adore about her is that Wendee embarks on amazing adventures, swimmming with sharks and climbing in Nepal, while also being a single mother to two teenagers.
The first letter, by Pascale Lane, MD, I emailed to Savannah! It was fantastic and hilarious. It said in part:
Why does this 5 letter word have such power over women? We are raised to be "nice." Malicious, unpleasant, and selfish are the opposite of this goal; however, this means that demanding equality may appear bitchy! At so many gatherings I have heard women ask how they can get their needs met without being called a bitch (generally these women spell the word rather than say it). The short answer? You cannot! Anytime you assert your needs and put yourself ahead of someone else, others may call you a "female dog."
When my daughter was starting middle school, I explained the world to her in my own warped way. I give my students the same advice. If you have a voice that gets heard in the world, someone will call you a bitch. If you perform acts of kindness and charity, someone will say that the bitch is showing off! If you show more spine than a jelly fish, someone eventually will brand you a bitch. Accept it. If someone calls you a bitch, you are probably doing something right.
I also wanted to mention that Jill Mueller in her Barefoot Badger blog wrote about her time traipsing around the rainforest in search of cassowaries with me, In Search of the Cassowary., while I was researching my Wildlife Conservation Magazine article, Saving Big Bird. She was an intern at the School for Field Studies Center for Rainforest Studies in Australia, where I'd given a talk in May, after my shark expedition. Jill is interested in doing science/environment writing also and I said that she could "shadow" me, so to speak, as I write my story on cassowaries when I returned in August. It was a fun time!