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Context and Variation


Human behavior, evolutionary medicine… and ladybusiness.
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Happy Blogiversary! Ladybusiness Anthropology Wears Many Hats

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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I wear a few different hats in the science blogosphere:

Hats by David Spender via Flickr Creative Commons.

Clockwise from bottom yellow hat (because that one is so obviously a feminist hat): Angry Feminist, Unpacker of Bad Science, Metablogger on Academic Life, Science Blogger to a Broad Audience, Science Blogger to My Anthropology Peeps. The remaining hats will have to be worn by someone else.

So, I don’t always know why you are here, which of these hats you prefer I wear, and whether you are a drive-by or returning reader, I am asking you to delurk today on our network’s blogiversary to answer and do the following (inspired by Ed Yong and Drugmonkey, and suggested by the Blogfather):

1) Who are you? I mean your background, interests – why are you reading a science blog right now when you could be doing something else, like trying on fun hats?

2) What is it about this blog that brought you here? Do you use these posts in any specific way (i.e., arguments with your friends, readings for a class you teach, fuel for an upcoming appointment with your doctor)?

3) Help us get more people reading about science – pass on my blog, and others here at SciAm and all over the darn internet. Find out what they think. Let me know how it goes.

Simple, huh? Also, you need a valid email address to comment, but that’s it — real names not needed. I believe there’s a bug in the system that allows you to even comment immediately upon registering without waiting for the confirmation email. Just remember my comment policy and we’ll be all good. Can’t wait to hear from you!

Kate Clancy About the Author: Dr. Kate Clancy is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Illinois. She studies the evolutionary medicine of women’s reproductive physiology, and blogs about her field, the evolution of human behavior and issues for women in science. Find her comment policy here. Follow on Twitter @KateClancy.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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  1. 1. EricMJohnson 9:12 am 07/5/2012

    I studied evolutionary anthropology in graduate school, but now I’m primarily focused on the history of science (especially evolutionary biology and anthropology). I enjoy reading science blogs because it gives me insight into new research that’s coming out but also interesting perspectives on that research that are written in a fun and engaging way.

    I’ve been following this blog since before it moved to SciAm and have long appreciated how you write about science (as well as your own career as a scientist) with so much openness, wit, and analytical rigor. I always know that I can trust you to get the facts straight and I really enjoy your perspective on the issues you cover. I look forward to another great year!

    Link to this
  2. 2. rusalka 11:05 am 07/5/2012

    1) I’m coming to this blog as a feminist and young once-and-future social scientist – I studied linguistics as an undergrad, got an MA in area studies with a sociology/cultural anthropology focus, and now work in something sort of unrelated (non-profit management) while I am figuring out what all my interests have been building up toward, which looks like it is probably something public health related at the intersection of demography and reproductive health/rights in the area of the world (Russia/Eurasia) that I studied in grad school. Whew. Maybe that was more than you wanted to know? Anyway, given all that, your writings about ladybusiness science and the art of being a lady scientist are equally interesting to me. I also took an evolutionary psych course in undergrad with Laurie Santos and loved it, and this blog and others like it are great because they’ve occasionally given me a way to critically engage with material that I just sort of took at face value when I first learned it as a 19-year-old.

    2) I am on a listserv consisting of a group of women I played music with in college, and many of them have become scientists or doctors since then. I’ve shared links from this blog to the list several times, since it’s well written and pretty much right up our collective alley – not just because science relating to our own bodies is super interesting, but because the questions about being a woman in the professional world and on the internet are of great concern to almost all of us as we wend our way into our late 20s and early 30s. As for how I found the blog, I don’t really remember – I think it was linked from some other blog I read, and I liked it and added it to my RSS reader.

    3) Sure!

    Link to this
  3. 3. Krebska 11:46 am 07/5/2012

    I am a recent MPH graduate who focused in Maternal and Child Health. I have a background in basic science (molecular biology and genetics) and I find your blog witty, informative and fascinating. I am planning to head back to grad school (I secretly wish I could work with you, but I can’t leave my state because of my husband’s job), hopefully to work in health services research or human behavioral science as it applies to women’s health and reproductive rights.

    I’ve been following your blog since before it moved. I can’t even remember how I found you (perhaps a link from a different women’s health oriented blog?), but I am so glad I did! I find your blog informative, your perspective interesting and your facts always straight and well founded (which isn’t always easy to come by, especially in regards to women’s health). Keep it up!

    Link to this
  4. 4. Brin Bellway 2:32 pm 07/5/2012

    why are you reading a science blog right now when you could be doing something else, like trying on fun hats?

    Because I’m a sucker for “science is awesome, here’s why”. (I also like “this is bad science and not awesome, here’s why”. I think it’s the MST3K-watcher in me.) I often (though not always) skip the academic-focused posts.

    (I’m not very into trying on hats anyway.)

    What is it about this blog that brought you here?

    It was the original version of this post that made me decide to sign up for your RSS feed.

    Link to this
  5. 5. ladyvespa 2:36 pm 07/5/2012

    1) Who are you?

    I’m a blogger, writer and grad student in a (mostly) non-scientific field (communication and public relations). I have always loved science, ever since I was a kid, but I never really pursued it just because I’ve always been a better writer than a researcher/experimenter and I figured in my writing career, I would get to touch a few science topics as a generalist of sorts. This hasn’t really turned out to be true (the closest I’ve gotten to writing about science is technical writing) but I love reading about science and especially love reading a writer who is so adept at turning highly complex ideas into understandable prose. As a technical writer, this was always a challenge for me and I love seeing it done well. Additionally, I read science blogs because I love telling people what I’ve learned from them. I think that if more people write about science, more people will talk about science, and if more people talk about science, it will eventually become cool to think critically and scientifically about the world around us. I hope.

    2) What is it about this blog that brought you here? Do you use these posts in any specific way?

    I heard about this blog from a Boing Boing post. I don’t really use these posts in any particular way, but I frequently take them to my sister (who actually DOES have a scientific background) because the writing appeals to me, and the content appeals to her. It is sort of the corpus callosum that ties the two of us together- right-brained and left-brained as we tend to be.

    3) Help us get more people reading about science – pass on my blog, and others here at SciAm and all over the darn internet. Find out what they think. Let me know how it goes.

    Will do! Thank you for a lovely blog!

    Link to this
  6. 6. Kate Clancy in reply to Kate Clancy 2:56 pm 07/5/2012

    Rusalka, I TAed for Laurie in her ev psych class when I was a grad student! Small world :) .

    Thanks for all your comments, everyone. It’s delightful learning more about you. (and Krebska, if only you lived in Illinois!)

    Link to this
  7. 7. Cialti 5:42 pm 07/5/2012

    1) Who are you? I mean your background, interests – why are you reading a science blog right now when you could be doing something else, like trying on fun hats?

    I’m 37, female, and work in Silicon Valley. My degrees are in business, but I’m a technical person and really enjoy science.

    2) What is it about this blog that brought you here? Do you use these posts in any specific way (i.e., arguments with your friends, readings for a class you teach, fuel for an upcoming appointment with your doctor)?

    My husband and I have been trying to have a baby for the past 5 years (I’m happy to share that I’m currently almost 16 weeks pregnant), so I read a lot of fertility/infertility blogs. I originally found you through your IVF posts before you moved to scientificamerica.com. I occasionally share relevant posts with online or real-life friends dealing with fertility issues.

    Thank you!

    Link to this
  8. 8. killgrove 9:35 pm 07/5/2012

    1) When I started reading the old version of the blog, I was a grad student with an infant daughter. Now, I’m an assistant professor of biological anthropology with a toddler. So, I came for the bioanth posts, and I stayed for the blogging-and-parenting-on-the-tenure-track insights!

    2) Can’t recall how I found you… probably some combination of Twitter and Anthropology in Practice.

    3) Will do. Are you on the BioAnthropology News group on Facebook? I’ll try to remember to post links to your pieces there!

    Link to this
  9. 9. ascendentphoenix 12:43 am 07/6/2012

    Hi Kate!

    I’m a soon-to-be med student (starting next month) planning on doing a dual MPH degree. My undergrad background is a dual major in neuroscience and bioengineering, and I did a bunch of research as part of that though I didn’t think it was really for me. Between my undergrad and now, I earned a license in massage therapy. I took a couple anthropology electives in undergrad, including a course called Human Sexuality in Cross-Culture which I found fascinating. My upbringing has been pretty repressed, including pretty much no education on sex, so with the web I’ve been able to chase after information on what I’m curious about. I think meeting a lot of people on the west coast (when my upbringing was on the east coast) also made me more open about sex and realize more the importance of proper education about sex and contraceptive options. I’m interested in becoming a better feminist (I’m usually pretty shy about these issues in real life since there are so many negative feelings towards that title) and learning more about how women can do better in the world, both professionally and personally. I think your blog is awesome and you’re a great lady science + blogger + feminist role model. I’m not sure exactly what I want to do with my education, but I’d like to be a positive role model to girls, and also blog about medicine in a way that encourages people to get involved in their own health. I’ve been subscribed to your blog’s RSS feed since a couple months before you moved to SciAm, probably linked from something in Sociological Images blog. I always get pretty excited when I see a new post from you!

    The posts on contraceptions and “normal” periods (I’ve always been a little self-conscious of my irregular periods, so it’s nice getting actual references telling me that it’s okay!) brought me here, but the posts on living as a woman in science are always a nice treat. I don’t think you’ve had any posts that I didn’t think were relevant to me. As for sharing posts, I’ve definitely put a couple up on my facebook – I specifically remember sharing your Skeptically Speaking podcast since I thought it was just awesome and a nice overview of a lot of things that you like talking about.

    Keep up the awesome work!

    Link to this
  10. 10. michellespidermonkey 4:56 pm 07/6/2012

    Hello, I am a primatologist with a nerdy obsession with behavior and hormones! And quite honestly, the reason I am reading a science blog at this moment is because it is WAY more fun than working on dissertation! But somehow, less guilt-inducing than trying on hats :)

    Originally, I started reading your posts at your original blog because 1) they were fascinating, and 2) I have a very serious case of lab envy. Now, I read them, because 1) they are still fascinating, 2) some of them have helped me thinking out my research and brainstorming future ideas, 3) you and Julienne Rutherford are basically my role models for where I want to be in a few years.

    I will definitely pass on interesting posts! Unfortunately my feed in blogger has a glitch that won’t let me follow you, so I have to periodically check up on the website so I don’t miss out on this blog or Primate Diaries.

    And I am so jealous of those of you that TAed/took an evolutionary psych class with Laurie Santos! I took a horrible ev psych class in the first year of my masters program, and I’d love to see how Laurie teaches it! I think ev psych has a lot of potential, but is often maligned because so much is often shoddy/biased science, or decent science that the press blows out of proportion without considerations of the major limitations of the actual study. But that is a topic for another discussion.

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  11. 11. Kate Clancy in reply to Kate Clancy 5:09 pm 07/6/2012

    Cialti – CONGRATS on the pregnancy and best of luck!

    Link to this
  12. 12. callybooker 5:48 pm 07/9/2012

    I’m also a person with many hats (and I particularly like felted ones) though none of them are anthropology or ladybusiness related. Well, except that I am human and female. I’m also a mathematician, a handweaver and a person who is generally curious about things. I followed a link to your old blog through twitter, and have been reading with interest ever since. I’m a bit of a data hound so the posts where you examine published results and highlight misrepresentations of data are my favorites. I haven’t used your writing in any formal context, though I have occasionally described a post at length to my ever-so-patient friends. And I certainly recommend your blog when I’m not being sat on and my mouth stuffed with cushions.

    Link to this
  13. 13. granolasusan 12:12 pm 07/20/2012

    Coming a little late to comment. I’m a full professor in the humanities, and I run an advanced writing program. Lots of my time is thus reassigned to working with faculty in other disciplines, and I read your blog in part to get a glimpse of what it’s like to be a science professor. Beyond that, I appreciate the smart and feminist analysis; I enjoy reading about science.

    Link to this
  14. 14. rebeccaclara 7:47 pm 07/26/2012

    1) I am 26, I have an undergraduate degree in Human Biology, and have been interested in human behavioral biology and evolutionary biology for a long time but the things I read on the topic were often at odds with the feminist in me (oh so not so with this blog!) I am currently working in women’s health clinical research, and somewhat desperately wading through the sea of options for my impending career choice. I have also considered moving to Illinois to try to work with Kate! My current scheme is med school with a possible specialty in reproductive endocrinology…

    2) I think I have sent at least one post on this blog to everyone I’m close to: my younger sister, mother, friends, and boyfriend. It’s such a refreshing perspective– a feminist lens on ev. biology. And definitely the most rigorously analytical science blog I subscribe to. And the most interesting! Your posts really get me thinking about science and how to distill conclusions from what gets reported in media.

    Link to this
  15. 15. Kate Clancy in reply to Kate Clancy 2:23 pm 08/7/2012

    Thank you rebeccaclara! It’s nice to learn about you and hear what is useful about the blog. It keeps me going!

    Link to this
  16. 16. heolsen 2:44 pm 09/8/2013

    Hi, Kate.

    I know I’m a year and then some late to this post but your blog has been such an important resource to me over the last year.

    1. I am a PhD student in Human Geography with a focus on women’s reproductive health practices in post-conflict contexts (and I often describe my work as studying “lady business”). I studied Public Health (specifically maternal and child health) and Geography as an undergraduate. I actually almost applied to Illinois and am a little bummed that I hadn’t really discovered your blog or research work when I was working on my applications. Darn it!

    2. A friend of mine sent your blog my way during a particularly stressful couple of weeks and, I have to say, your perspective and honesty were refreshingly hopeful. I so appreciate the feminist lens you bring to Biological Anthropology and your smart, insightful, and downright funny commentaries on life as a female tenure-track professor.

    3. Absolutely. I’ve already shared a few posts but I’ll keep it up.

    Looking forward to your next posts!

    Link to this
  17. 17. Kate Clancy in reply to Kate Clancy 3:50 pm 09/8/2013

    Thank you so much for your comment. You made my day, heolsen!

    Link to this

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