After the Biology-Online scandal settled down, a new (unrelated) uproar started about revelations that senior editor Bora Zivkovic (BoraZ) has been inappropriate in his interactions with female writers, with heartbreaking fall-out over writers wondering how much of their success or failures have to do with those interactions. Zivkovic has since stepped down from his position in the science blogging conference board, and is no longer an editor with Scientific American.
I have never read, met, tweeted, or otherwise interacted with anyone involved. (I know, a science writer and blogger who doesn’t know the blogfather and doesn’t attend Science Online? Total maverick.) I have experienced the Creepy Mentor problem of discovering I’m on some weird non-date instead of a professional interaction, or had people treat me completely inappropriately in professional settings. When I participate in Women in Science & Engineering mentoring programs, if asked, I will talk pretty bluntly about how much fighting can be involved sometimes just trying to do your job. I don’t want to scare people out of my industry, but some camps, bosses, or departments can be downright brutal, and I think it helps to know you’re not the only one it happens to, and to not be taken completely by surprise.
From the email I receive, many readers of this blog are figuring out the start of their professional lives. Take this as a lesson: You don’t need to be tolerate things that are clearly wrong. Maybe one day, we can stop having these talks, not due to fearful silence, but because things are so much better.
Right now, I’m sitting on publishing the first-ever guest-post for this blog. I’m waiting, because I don’t want a new writer’s efforts to be dwarfed by other people’s scandals.