16 Responses to Anniversary Day

  1. Frank says:

    Happy blog-birthday! I didn’t realise you had only started blogging a short while before comming to OT. You certainly seem at home in the medium.

    Do you think that ignorance about what scientists do is a more important issue than ignorance about science itself?

    It is interesting that you found the energy of your blogging lies more in the policy area than in writing about science itself, though that wasn’t your original intention in setting out to blog.

  2. Anna says:

    The fact that I absolutely adore your English typing voice makes writing a comment all the more complicated, so I will keep it simple.
    I thought you were a wonderful and exceptional woman they day I met you and I´ve been utterly happy to have found this blog and your twitter finding your posts interesting, challenging, brave and, as you say, proudly opinionated.
    Thanks for the effort and the time you share with us!

  3. Thanks Thorny Christie and Anna for your good wishes

    Frank, I think in terms of making science seem acessible and meaningful, having some idea of what scientists do is crucial. It’s probably part of the basis of ‘trust’, and I think some of the anxieties about that famous string of emails in Climategate came because the use of the word ‘trick’ means something different to practitioners of science and the general public. Conveying the excitement of science by talking about what one does is another vital part of the jigsaw. They both matter, possibly a given individual reacts more strongly to one than the other. But I think we ignore discussing what scientists do with schoolchildren at our peril. It can leave us looking too much like weirdos in white coats, because that is how we are so often portrayed in films etc. If that is how they think about scientists they won’t want to engage or listen – let alone pursue careers in science.

    • Laurence Cox says:

      I know what you mean when you write of conveying the excitement of science by talking about what you do. I became a STEM ambassador for the first time earlier this year, which I found a stimulating experience. The only problem is answering the question that always comes up “How much do you earn?” Unfortunately, there do not seem to be any recent salary surveys for any of the professional bodies, like IoP.

  4. Frank says:

    That is a good point – the need need to take the “weirdo” out of science and inject a bit of normality. I was struck by something yesterday when observing a two parents on the tube with a boy and a girl aged around 8 years old.

    To help pass the time the boy was doing some magic tricks, making coins appear out of his dad’s ear and that sort of thing. His mother was schooling him to perform other little tricks. At one point he said “But that’s not *real* magic!” and his mother said “Yes it is! That is how they all do it”. I think the boy was a bit dubious, but I thought to myself that perhaps in that moment a future skeptic, a rational scientist, was born.

    If children can see that scientists, by doing ordinary things, can achieve exraordinary results and explain “magical” occurrences then they may increasingly accept rational explanations inm life.

  5. Steve Caplan says:

    Here’s to many more years of fascinating posts! I thought you had been blogging for years, based on the sheer professionalism and apparent ease at which you handle some very difficult and complex issues.



  6. Steve says:

    Yes, happy blog-day. I appreciate knowing what it is like to be a woman in science. All of us, men included, need to empathise and moreover challenge the severe prejeudice that is still very much a audible echo from the past (like my use of language? Not quite the bard…). So, in short I have enjoyed reading your blog and long may it continue.

  7. Congratulations! I’m looking forward to more cartoonable blogposts (if you so wish, of course). I’m still trying to figure out a cartoon around your Dramatis Personae list…

  8. LornaD says:

    I really enjoy reading your blog and find it a refreshing and frank perspective on life as an academic. I also appreciate been pointed in the direction of interesting literature and blogs by other academics, writers, etc.

    In some ways your blog, and others, have become an online mentoring system! Not only does it provide access to the thoughts of an experienced academic but also to a wealth of other, often broad, opinions from your readers. Some people may have the privilege of such open dialogue in their own working environments, but for others this a treasured resource.  

    Please keep blogging. I will certainly keep reading!


  9. Ruth Wilson says:

    Its great to have your articulate and thoughtful comment on gender equality issues, Athene – and of course other topics as well.

  10. Thanks for all the kind words everyone. It is so encouraging to know people do find what I write useful (men and women!).

    LornaD makes the point she sees this as part of her online mentoring system; it makes me think I should be asking readers for suggestions of topics. One of the other blogs I sometimes refer to (FSP) I know specifically sets out to pose academic questions and gets a great debate going (do you find all the students sit in the back row of the lecture theatre and how do you combat it? sort of thing) and I’ve tended not to go down that route. But perhaps some subtle or not-so-subtle hints about what I’m not covering might give me inspiration for posts, when my own inspiration is failing! No promises I’ll take them up though, unless I feel I have something useful to say.

  11. Although I do think you’re opinionated — certainly in the neutral sense of having opinions and being willing to share them — the “itching for an outlet for her opinions” comment in my Physics World review actually stemmed from the fact that

    a) your thoughts and arguments seemed pretty polished, as they would if you’d been mulling over an issue for some time before blogging and
    b) unlike some new bloggers, you didn’t seem to be running short of interesting stuff to write about.

    both of which are still true a year later. Happy anniversary!

  12. Uta Frith says:

    Athene – I too want to add my congratulations and admiration. It is always enlightening to read your blog. I am so pleased you take the time to let us know your thoughts on topics that concern us all. Thinking about science, thinking about education and thinking about women in science are all part of what I would call (and what I actually sometimes study), ‘meta-cognition’. True to your Greek name, you are teaching us that ‘thinking about thinking’ is the right thing to do if you don’t want to loose sight of the bigger picture. It does set a counterbalance and overcomes the danger of getting lost in the daily details of science. I look forward to many more posts.

  13. MGG says:

    Like others, I too thought that you were a veteran blogger, not a one-year-old! Happy Anniversary.
    It is nice to read about the passion and vulnerability of a senior woman physicist and to find that these are somehow your strengths! Very inspirational.

  14. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    Happy blogiversary!

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