Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Bug Girls and Persistence of Vision

Virginia DeBolt wrote a post on BlogHer The New York Times placing a technology story about women in engineering and science in the fashion section.  More recently there was an article by Elaine McArdle, that I read online via The Boston Globe, that offered the premise that women are not interested in science and technology jobs. 

My understanding of the the article's bottom line is that women scientists prefer human connections and don't care for the isolation or the inorganic world that most male scientists tend to work.  Sound familiar? It does to me. Exchange the words science or engineering for computers, blogging, automobiles, sports and you hear the same old song.

What has that got to do with the photo below of Isabella Rossellini?  Isabella was working on an project for the Sundance Channel. What she was really doing was experimenting on producing video for mobile and portable devices. The topic Isabella selected was how certain insects have sex. If you are interested there is an interview of Isabella on the Wall Street Journal Digital Network on YouTube.

Isabella as a bug at the Sundance Channel

At my last count there were 89,000 links in Google on this project. Do you want to hazard a guess as to how many of those links make any reference to Entomologists? Or Entomologists who blog? Or Entomologists who blog who are women?

Not as many, I guess. I did not count each of the 89,000 links because it got depressing how easy it is to get attention by using the letters "p" "o" "r" and the letter "n" in conjunction with any person, place or thing.  When it comes to sex we can see it, there is a relationship to the topic and you don't have to expend a lot of effort to try to convince people, usually male, that women are participants and stakeholders. 

There is not the same kind of persistence of vision when it comes to women and science.  There is an imbalance in between the truth and the perception. So, here is a small drop in the bucket to those women (and some men folk) who on a regular basis blog about bugs, insects, and other beings of the multi-legged persuasion.

BugGirl is a good place to start you authentic journey into insects and the humans that have active relationships with them. I would say that her blog is a recognition that humans do not live independently from insects. You learn things like how people run scams with insects. She also has links to real bug movies like Return of the 17-year Circadas.

InsectaPodcast is an entomological podcast created by Anna Fiedler and Jake McCarthy at Michigan State University. This is the place to come to if you want to know about contemporary bees and their issues living in a managed environment. If you had affection for Marvel Comics The Wasp you'd might like to hear Dr. Elizabeth Tibbles explain how in the battle of supremacy why it is good to be the queen:

Anna How do they determine which queen is the dominant queen?

Elizabeth So they determine dominance status by having intense battles where they grapple w/ each other, so they’ll stand up on their hind legs and it kind of looks like they’re boxing, and then sometimes they roll around and try to sting each other to death, and the winner is the dominant. But after dominance is established, they become very non-aggressive towards each other, so they don’t keep fighting for their whole life. It’s established, and then the winner stays the winner.

You don't have to have an mp3 player to enjoy the goodness, text transcripts are available.

Finally,  Kelley over at Bugs for Thugs is an Entomologist who photographs insects, birds and other small squishy things. Kelley also has a recurring feature that invites folks to post questions such as "Are bugs getting smaller?" or "How do you control household pests?" I like her non-toxic answer for permanent non-living relocation for her specific situation.

Science She-Ro of The Day: Today is Rachel Carson's birthday. She was a biologist and a writer who most famous work, Silent Spring, detailed in the 1960s the wide use of poisons and pesticides without any consideration to their effect on the environment and human beings. Rachel asked humans to become aware of what we are collectively doing on the planet. She inspired or instigated much of the modern environmental movement.

Well, one down and 88,999 more posts to go before the balance is restored.  Something got's you buggy? Put it in the comments.

This post also appear on BlogHer.

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