I have learned a lot from the community of bloggers whom I interact with, but what has been the most important education for me, bar none, has come from the feminist posts of women bloggers reminding me how privlidged I have it. I should say that I have always considered myself supportive of diversity in science and have gone out of my way to find ways to foster it whenever I have had the opportunity. But in my effort to do what I thought was important for helping underrepresented groups in science, I was missing something right in front of me.
Being a white guy is pretty easy, especially in science. Pretty much everything is geared for our success, since the people making the rules for so long were other white dudes. When I have mentioned this to people IRL, about 50% of the time the person responds with something like, "but what about all the special programs for women and minorities? Where are the special programs for white doods?" Almost everyone will be familiar with this response, as it is one of several Standard Stock Responses to Diversity Issues and it is easy to get tired of saying "you mean the rest of science?".
In my mind, supporting diversity programs and recruiting initiatives was one of the more effective ways to bring others into the fold. But what was staring me in the face, even though I was looking straight through it, was that my inability to put myself in the shoes of the people I was trying to recruit made success far more difficult than I appreciated. Assuming that others have similar motivations, constraints and goals as I did as a trainee is a lazy and ill-conceived way to approach recruiting anyone, but particularly people from backgrounds very different from my own. It seems very simple when I write it out, but success in broadening diversity in science is far more dependent on changing the way we do things than on changing others to fit the way things are done. It took me a while to get that, but this change in mindset has had a major impact on how I see and think about my field of science, where I would like to see it head in the next 5, 10, 20 years and what I can do to push things in that direction.
So, where does Zuska come into all this? Because her blog has been a really important resource in my continued effort stop thinking like a white dude.
I will reluctantly admit that when I first came across Zuska's blog it didn't grab me. For a while I would go check it out now and again to see what she was ranting about but I didn't think about the posts or how they applied to me. Yes, I can admit to being an idiot, it happens. But then a series of posts (the exact topic, unfortunately, is escaping me) between a few different bloggers (including Isis and DrugMonkey) brought me back to Zuska ready to think about what she writes.
I have been reading Zuska's blog for a number of months just trying to get my appreciation of the feminist viewpoint up to speed and I am amazed by Zuska's strength. Blogging for me has almost always been a fun experience with positive interactions and I'm not sure if I would continue with it if I had to put up with the trolls and asshats she deals with constantly. The comments alone on a post like this epic thread make me not only weep for my gender, but might just make me walk away from blogging in frustration. But despite all of it Zuska carries on, and like my ironically tongue-in-cheek title suggests, I think that takes a lot of courage.
I for one am thankful she does and would like to take this opportunity to say so. Thanks for bringing numerous important issues up and providing insightful posts about them; for being the person who lets others know it is not just them; for delivering your message in the face attacking stupidity and ignorance; and for allowing someone like me to learn in the wings and make important realizations while thinking about your writing.
Stay angry Zuska and thanks for having a huge set of ovaries.
6 hours ago