Online LGBT Pride: the Diversity in Science Blog Carnival
By Alberto I. Roca, Ph.D. and Jeremy B. Yoder, Ph.D.
The “Diversity in Science” blog carnivals have returned with the theme of LGBT science and scientists. A blog carnival is one blog post organized by a rotating editor who collects writings, links, photos, and images submitted on the carnival’s central theme. Dr. Alberto Roca, founder of the portal MinorityPostdoc.org, facilitates organizing the overall Diversity in Science (DiS) blog carnival while the specific host was Dr. Jeremy Yoder, blogger at “Denim and Tweed”, who called for entries in May. The final edited carnival post was published at the end of June for Pride Month.
The DiS carnivals were started in 2009 by then biology graduate student, Danielle Lee, author of the award-winning K-12 outreach blog Urban Science Adventures. Early DiS carnival themes during Black History, Women’s History, and Hispanic Heritage Months celebrated early science leaders from these respective communities. As stated in Danielle’s first post “this carnival celebrates the people of science and engineering — those who innovate, invent, research, teach, and reach out. This blog carnival tells the stories of achievement and perseverance.” The DiS blog carnival logo was designed by Daniel DeWitt Brown and captures the inclusiveness of this online science community writing project. Later themes in the nine previously published carnivals included environmental awareness and broadening participation in STEM among K-12 and college students.
After a one-year hiatus, the DiS carnival relaunched in 2011 with the 10th edition for Pride Month to celebrate the stories of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered scientists and engineers. Experienced bloggers submitted links to their own Pride Month post. However, a participant need not have their own blog since someone can just email a couple of paragraphs or photos. A list of suggested diversity topics is found in the table below.
Science writing online can educate the public and especially future STEM and biomedical trainees about academic literature and reports. Dr. Yoder frequently writes about new scientific results that have caught his attention. He draws upon his background as a biologist who studies the ways in which interactions between species — predators and prey, hosts and parasites, plants and pollinators — shape the history of life on Earth. Dr. Yoder is also an active member of the science blogging community that informs his blog posts on topical issues in science news. It is this online interaction that distinguishes science blogging from more traditional science journalism. Nothing demonstrates the difference more clearly than the active give-and-take that occurs in a blog’s comments section, drawing readers in to participate in a true conversation. Blogging can thus have broader impacts on public outreach and inclusion. For example, the National Academies has pointed out the need to engage LGBT populations in health studies. As forums for interaction between target audiences and writers with relevant expertise, blogs are uniquely suitable for this goal.
Online blog writing is more informal, personal, and conversational than traditional media reporting. This allows readers to develop a relationship with a blog and its author. The value of this interaction for communication in underserved communities can not be overstated. In fact, Dr. Danielle Lee’s motivation for the DiS carnival was “to showcase the individuals of science as role models.” This is accomplished by both the subjects of the blog posts and also by the voice of the blog author. Dr. Yoder has embodied this by writing about his own experience as well as by applying his expertise in evolutionary biology to the topics of female orgasm and lizard lesbianism. Some example submissions for the Pride Month DiS tackled the topics of the invisibility of bisexuality, the contributions of gay rights pioneer and astronomer Frank Kameny, the media confusion over the (incorrectly) reported discovery of the remains of a “gay caveman”, and the story of British cryptographer and mathematician Alan Turing. One contributor even described how neurological and genetic studies of same-sex attraction helped them come to terms with their own sexuality. We expect that the Pride Month blog carnival will raise the visibility of “out” scientists.
A Community of Science Bloggers
Bloggers and other science enthusiasts interact with each other in-person at conferences such as “ScienceOnline”. Drs. Lee and Roca were speakers at the 2011 panel “MLK Jr. Memorial Session” discussing the underrepresentation of minorities in the STEM disciplines, in general, and specifically in the science online community. Noting the lack of diversity among conference attendees and the lack of awareness about minority writers in the blogosphere, Dr. Roca was motivated to create a page on his web portal about “Diversity Bloggers”. This resource features blogs authored by STEM Ph.D. students/professionals who are a) members of underrepresented groups and/or b) allies writing about underrepresented groups such as women, people of color, LGBT, disability, etc. We encourage readers to peruse this page to note if missing LGBT (or other minority) online writers should be added. This page also archives the DiS blog carnivals. We expect that reviving the Diversity in Science blog carnival can help find new speakers from underserved communities to give voice to their scholarship, opinions, and career goals. Anyone can contribute to the upcoming 2012 ScienceOnline diversity topic at the conference wiki.
Diversifying the Science Workforce
Finally, the MinorityPostdoc.org website also promotes Ph.D. scientists themselves to advance in their careers. Dr. Roca coaches both graduate students and postdocs as they transition to their first professional positions in academia, industry, and other job sectors. For Pride Month, the website featured out LGBT scientists in the “Postdoc Spotlight” feature so that recruiters can diversify the talent pool for their open positions. These online tools — blogs, online communities, and resource web portals — provide new venues for celebrating the contributions of LGBT scientists and reaching out to the broader LGBT and ally audience.
Table: Suggested topics for the Pride Month Diversity in Science blog carnival
- Inspiring personal/career stories of famous LGBT scientists/leaders
- History of LGBT science, scientists, & politics
- Reflections of one’s own identity and its impact on your career/science
- Coming to terms with being a minority in a majority environment
- Relevant LGBT identity issues in science, medicine, health, etc.
- Career & professional resources: websites, articles, books, events, funding, etc.
- Outreach & mentoring activities to give back to the community
- Advocacy/leadership stories and opportunities
- Stories of safe space work environments in academia, industry, government, etc.
- Being a minority within a minority, e.g. women scientists of color
- Educating and building relations with allies
- Specific topics unique to the LGBT community, e.g. bisexual and transgender issues
Alberto I. Roca, Ph.D. is the Founder and Editor of MinorityPostdoc.org. Jeremy B. Yoder, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Yoder began his blog, Denim and Tweed, while a graduate student at the University of Idaho. Any opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors.
The citation for this article is:
A.I. Roca & J.B. Yoder (2011) Online LGBT Pride: Diversity in Science Blog Carnival.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article first appeared in the Summer 2011 issue of the NOGLSTP Bulletin newsletter. A PDF version of the shorter article can be downloaded here. MinorityPostdoc.org is now publishing original written works. Submit article ideas by contacting us at . This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.