Thursday, September 23, 2010

Why pseudonymity matters

A while back, someone on Twitter shared a link to an article in an Anthopology blog that mused about the reasons why people are more comfortable sharing personal information on line than they are in person. But as I read the article, I saw something else: one of the reasons why many women choose to use pseudonyms online.

The blogger witnessed a conversation on a subway that went like this (full version here):

Him: I haven’t seen you in awhile!
Her: Yeah …
Him: So are you going to Penn?
Her: No.
Him: You don’t live out east?
Her: No. I live here, in Manhattan.
Him: Oh, I live on Long Island. If I didn’t have kids …
Her: Yeah, it’s expensive.
Him: Well, yeah. But also the schools. I would have to pay for the type of education my kids get on Long Island.
Her: [Nods politely. Casts sidelong glance at me.]
Him: Are you married.
Her: No.

Just reading the conversation made my skin crawl and set off every one of my warning alarms about creepy guys. Ick. ICK.

The anthropology blog muses that people are willing to share much more personal information online because they feel as if they have a degree of distance that they don't have on a subway. There's this implication that sharing information online is just as dangerous as talking to a creepy guy on a subway, but that people don't realize just how dangerous it is.

But... sharing can be valuable as well as dangerous.

Living in a world where one can't share personal stories - a kid's lost tooth, a failed experiment, a glorious day in the field - is isolating. It's even more isolating when those personal stories involve undercurrents of discrimination - like being mistaken for an administrative assistant. Blogs (and other communication across distance) can reduce the sense of isolation for women geoscientists - that's one of the findings from the survey that Anne Jefferson, Pat Campbell, Suzanne Francks, and I did last summer (now online here). Blogs do seem to help.

But sharing that personal information can come at a cost if you attach your real-life name to it. Creepy stalkers may be rare, but if your real name is attached to your stories, you can be found. And, although it may help job-seekers to be Googleable, it's also important that job-seekers come across as someone who would fit into a job. Expressing fear that you aren't good enough at research is not a good way to sell yourself to an R1 university, and sharing frustration with teaching sexist students does not make you look like an excellent teacher. The very things that make women-in-science blogs valuable could threaten the careers of the bloggers, if the bloggers didn't use pseudonyms.

We didn't talk about pseudonyms in our GSA Today article. But I've got a feeling that pseudonymity is what makes the benefits discussed in our article possible.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Job opportunity: director of STEM student support services

Hello world, and sorry for the blog silence. I'm still not back to regular posting, but I would like some help spreading the word about a job opportunity here at Fort Lewis College. We recently received a grant from the Department of Education, to provide support for science/technology/engineering/math students who are low-income, first-generation, or have disabilities. We have a similar program (the Program for Academic Advancement) for students college-wide, but this new program will support math, science, and engineering students. I'm excited about this program - our PAA program does a fantastic job helping students finish their degrees and move on to graduate school or the workforce, and I'm looking forward to working with the STEM3 program.

If you have a blog that deals with diversity in science, could you tell your readers about this job opportunity?

Here's the official job announcement (also online here: ):

STEM3 Student Support Services Program
Fort Lewis College
Durango, Colorado

Fort Lewis College invites applications for the Director of its new STEM3 Student Support Services Program (a federally funded TRiO program). The position is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education that requires application for renewal every five years. The Director is responsible for organizing and managing support services for 120 academically and/or economically disadvantaged college students. Services include tutoring and academic, career, financial aid, and graduate school advising for eligible students in the STEM disciplines. STEM disciplines include the Sciences (Agriculture, Anthropology, Biology, Chemistry, Exercise Science, Geology, Geoscience, Physics, and Psychology), Technology (Computer Science Information Systems), Engineering, and Mathematics. The Director will also be responsible for approving expenditures, maintaining budget control and responsibility for the appropriate use of grant funds; facilitating and overseeing development and implementation of effective, objective project evaluation; maintaining data collection and a program database for monitoring and tracking of participant progress and outcomes; working closely with the Dean of the School of Natural and Behavioral Sciences and the FLC STEM faculty to ensure program delivery will meet STEM student needs; overseeing preparation of fiscal and technical reports for the U.S. Dept. of Education and Fort Lewis College; managing and supervising program personnel; providing intrusive academic advising and monitoring, and financial aid advising to a small caseload of participants; attending STEM Department Chair meetings; and serving on relevant college committees.

Minimum qualifications are as follows:

• Masters Degree in Social Sciences, Education, Educational Administration, Student Personnel Administration, Counseling, or related field and a BS / BA in a STEM discipline (see above)
• At least four years experience working with disadvantaged students (low-income, first generation, students with disabilities) in higher education
• At least two years experience designing comprehensive programs that include courses, activities, workshops, tutoring or supplemental instruction, student monitoring, or other services that promote retention of SSS eligible STEM students at the postsecondary level
• At least two years experience implementing procedures for delivery of services, data collection, program evaluation or similar procedures that enhance program effectiveness and promote student retention in SSS or similar programs at the postsecondary level
• At least three years of administrative and supervisory experience that includes budget oversight and management.

Preferred qualifications include:

• Experience as a disadvantaged (first-generation, low-income, or disabled) college student
• Experience working with a TRiO program or other program with a similar mission
• Ability to provide ad-hoc tutoring support, especially in mathematics
• Successful grant writing and grant management experience.

This position is a full-time, 12 month position. Candidates must be willing to work flexible hours including evenings and weekends. Some travel is required to statewide, regional, and/or national meetings. Salary is $42,000 with full range of benefits. The position is anticipated to begin in November 2010. Individuals with experience as a disadvantaged individual or assisting disadvantaged students are encouraged to apply.

Interested and qualified applicants must submit: 1) a letter of interest detailing experience that meets the minimum and preferred qualifications, 2) a current resume, and 3) the names, addresses, email addresses, and telephone numbers of three professional references electronically to:

Deadline: Complete applications must be received no later than 5:00 pm on Monday, October 18, 2010 to receive consideration.

Fort Lewis College does not discriminate on the basis of race, age, color, religion, national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation, political beliefs, or veteran status. Accordingly, equal opportunity for employment, admission, and education shall be extended to all persons. The College shall promote equal opportunity, equal treatment, and affirmative action efforts to increase the diversity of students, faculty, and staff. People from under-represented groups are encouraged to apply.