Women, Blogging, and Academia: Part Two

After each of the woman had give short description of how and why they began blogging (see Part 1), Jenny Davidson asked a few questions and then there were also questions from the audience. Much of the discussion focused on pseudonymity versus anonymity, as well as issues of creating characters and naming people. Both Claire and Tedra used pseudonyms but are now out. Tedra misplaced where she was writing from and created some amalgam characters.

On the other hand Jenny always used her real name since her blog was linked to her publishing a novel. She feels that there are other issues connected to this concerning how you talk about other people. She used the example of being on a job search committee and how it would be inappropriate to blog in a negative fashion about the meetings since the job candidate could read it.

Eva started her blog as a graduate student which she described as being a cheap lab employee. She used her first name only but on other more serious blogs she uses her full name.

The issue of how fully you disclose your identity when blogging is connected to the potential risk of blogging for graduate students and nontenured professors. None of the panelists felt that they had suffered in their careers because of blogging but they all agreed that it is a personal decision. People should use common sense. Alexandra did say that “being public about being wrong can be a racialized privilege.”

Although the panelists did not really discuss in any depth issues of class and race in blogging,  Alexandra’s  comment reveals some of the issues inherent in writing in a public forum. Tedra see blogging as primarily social media and therefore likes the comments. All of the panelists delete obnoxious and offensive comments.

One of the questions from the audience was about blogging counting as publications for tenure. Both Jenny and Tedra felt that if anything it would be counted as service. Claire pointed out that there is still not agreement about how to handle publications from online journals, even if they are refereed. Thus she feels that counting blogging as writing is far down the line. Tedra said that blogging is “raw” writing while published works are “cooked.”

The panelists pay some attention to the news cycle and the immediacy of blogging about events as they happen. However they are not journalists and don’t claim to be.

The discussion made me think a lot about my own blogging and on-line persona. I will say more about that tomorrow.

Women, Blogging, and Academia: Part One

Today I attended, A Blog of Her Own: Scholarly Women on the Web, a round-table discussion held at Columbia University. Jenny Davidson, an English professor at Columbia and a novelist, chaired the session. The panelists were Eva Amsen, who  has a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Toronto  and blogs at easternblot; Tedra Osell who has a Ph.D in English literature from the University of Washington, was an assistant professor at the University of Guelph, Ontario, and blogs at BitchPh.D., Claire Potter, who is a professor of history and American Studies at Wesleyan University and blogs at Tenured Radical, and Alexandra T. Vazquez, who is an assistant professor at the Center for African American Studies and in the Department of English at Princeton University and is one of three  bloggers at Oh! Industry.

Eva began blogging to talk more about science. Her experiences blogging have made her want to do more with science writing rather than using her Ph.D. to do lab research.

Tedra started  blogging while she was on the job market. Her initial posts were about motherhood. She then gravitated to writing more about the process of  job searches and other issues in academia. Her Ph.D. was  on 18th Century English Essay Periodicals and issues of authorship.  She co-blogs with other people.

Claire believes that blogging is about writing; blogging has changed both her and her writing. Blogging puts”play” in the forefront and is different from more serious academic writing. Blogging also enables her to think about contemporary history.

Alexandra and her colleagues blog about music and other aspects of popular culture. They are three assistant (nontenured) professors from Filipino and Cuban backgrounds. They do not follow a strict schedule of blogging; posts can sometimes be a month apart.  She sees blogging as part of having a life outside of academia.

Tomorrow: The discussion

Traffic Jam

We were just stuck in a horrible traffic jam after having gone to Queens. We have been here ten days and this was the first time we used the car. That has been one of the nicest aspects of our stay in New York. We have been able to get wherever we wanted to go by public transportation and walking.

The traffic jam was as we were trying to go cross town on 37th st.  Eighth Avenue was closed off so you could not go north. This led to many cars going straight at the same time and a huge amount of honking.  Ironically earlier today we spent a pleasant fifteen minutes walking up Eighth Avenue because there was a street fair.

This driving experience definitely counts as part of the urban experience we were seeking. However it also makes me realize that it is better to try to find ways to use mass transit even when it might seem more logical to use a car.

Saturday Night

We had a very nice  late afternoon into evening. We went to the Guggenheim museum to see the Kandinsky exhibition. Saturday nights it is pay-as-you-wish from 5:45 to 7:45 p.m. Usually the admission is $18. Although it is pay-as-you-wish, they still have a suggested donation of $10. You have to stand on line and tell them what you are willing to donate and then you get an admission ticket. There was a line around the block to get in. We paid $1.25 each so it was a very good deal.

Beer Promotion

I have only been able to attend one event of the many being held during NY Craft Beer Week. Eighty-three bars are participating and a $35 passport enables you to go to any of these places and pay $2 for a pint of that bar’s featured beer. The passport also gives you a discount for other events including the Women in the Beer Panel.

There are also a series of dinners, Zagat House Specials, which are $40, three-course,with beer, meals. The most expensive meal appears to be tonight. You could pay $350 for a seven-course dinner paired with Brooklyn Brewery Beer at Per Se. Thomas Keller owns this restaurant which is in the Time Warner Center, Columbus Circle.

Andy Crouch, Beer Scribe has written about the questionableness of such an expensive meal.  In a a larger sense, I wonder what the  organizers of NY Craft Week are trying to accomplish. The women on the panel all spoke about promoting craft beer and creating wider exposure to its good taste and qualities. Are $350 dinners the way to do that? Even the $35 passport which gets you $2 beers seems problematic. The whole experience seems to require that a participant already has knowledge of both the beers and the bars.

The organizers have created an equivalent to the gallery scene I described in an earlier post. They are not relying on street traffic to generate business. Beer festivals do seem to be more accessible.

Craft brewers may have  an identity crisis. Are they aspiring to achieve the elitist status of wine or do they wish to get some of the market share that the poor tasting mega beers occupy? These goals are contradictory.

Women in the Beer Industry: Part Two

The panel discussion on Tuesday was very engaging and went past two hours. Each of the speakers provided details about how they got into the industry. Carol Stout was an educator but got interested in beer through her husband who loved good beer. They travelled to Germany. On their return, Carol wondered why they could not have the same quality of beer at their restaurant in Adamstown, PA. She does not feel that being a woman hindered her career in brewing and credits two men, Karl Strauss and Greg Noonan, with helping her.

Carol, along with the other panelists, felt that it was mainly a myth that woman do not like beer as much as men and that they liked to drink “fruity” beers more often. She blamed much of this perception on marketing and media. Carol also believes that women brewing beer has long historical roots and that there are now many places in the world where women are returning to this practice. In particular, she mentioned Ethiopia.

Jennifer Schwertman, the bartender, felt it was a matter of educating women about beer and having better bartenders to help with this process. She believes it is a partnership between brewers and the community palate. Jen loves the community around craft brewing as much as she loves the beer.

Sarah Beach is from Belgium and has worked for Duvel Moorgat/Ommegang for four years. She is in sales and said when she goes into a retail establishment for the first time they often asked her if she is old enough to drink beer. I thought it was interesting that she was included on the panel since Ommegang is a craft brewery that a larger company owns.

Susan Greene, from Global Brewers Guild, is involved in sales and marketing and has worked for the company for over six years. Prior to her working in the beer industry, she was involved with restaurants. Susan feels that although New York has numerous excellent restaurants, the establishments often have poor beer lists.  In this area, she feels other cities are better.

A common theme among many of the panelists was that the craft beer scene is more vibrant in other parts of the country, particularly the Pacific Northwest. All are committed to making craft beers a thriving presence in New York City.

Debbie Boening stated that her family company had been involved, along with the Van Munching’s in importing and distributing Heineken in America. When Heineken took back distribution, it left a big gap in  Boening’s portfolio. It as at this point that she started looking at craft beers.

In the early 1980s, Jin Koch (Boston Beer) had to make several repeat visits before she would agree to sell Sam Adams. One of her sales reps was in the audience and told of going to various stores and bars saying, “I have Stoudt’s for you.” The other person would reply, “We have Guinness.” Sales Rep:  “It’s Carol Stoudt.” “You want me to buy a woman’s beer?” However, the distinctiveness of a woman making Stoudt’s did provide entry. Debbie said that, despite having many excellent craft beers in her portfolio, Colt 45 was still her top seller.

None of the panelists really felt that being a woman in the beer industry had made their path more difficult. All felt that the craft beer industry is very welcoming and supportive. The audience was overwhelmingly female so there may be a completely new group of women anxious to enter the industry.

Women in the Beer Industry:Part One

Last night I went to the French Culinary Institute, heard a panel discussion about women in the beer industry, and sampled beer, bread and cheese. All of the beers related in some way to the speakers. There were beers from Stoudt’s, Ommegang and Dogfish Head.

I had a Stoudt’s Pils which was very refreshing and had a good  taste and color, unlike the Heineken I had a few days ago. My husband had a Stoudt’s Scarlet Lady ESB which he liked very much. We both tried the Dogfish Head Punkin which, for me, was surprisingly good, not too sweet and just a hint of pumpkin taste.  My favorite was the Ommegang Abbey Ale which was delicious, a beautiful ruby brown color, and very smooth. It is 7% abv. It would go well at any meal at which you would consider serving wine.

Two nights ago we went to the Blind Tiger Ale House which is a very well-known beer bar with an overwhelmingly selection of both draft and bottled beers. It reminded me of a smaller Moan and Dove (my local bar) with more beers, food but no peanuts. We had Blue Point Cask IPA which I did not like. It was very still and tasted like a stout. I liked the Cigar City Maduro Oatmeal Brown Ale though.

The women on the panel represented various aspects of the brewing industry, from production to retail. Maggie Fuller, founder of Beer  Ethos moderated the discussion. Maggie has a degree in brewing science from UCDavis and founded Beer Ethos to promote” the appreciation and enjoyment of beer through drinking and discourse.”* She plans on opening a beer store in the near future.

The women on the panel were: Carol Stoudt, President and Brewmaster, Stoudt’s Brewery. Carol was the first American woman to “oversee the design and development of a craft brewery from start to finish.”

Susan Greene, General Sales Manager Global Brewers Guild,”which represents a dozen domestic and imported beers throughout the East Coast.” (I couldn’t find a website)

Jennifer Schwertman, a bartender at the Blind Tiger.

Sarah Lescrauwart Beach, Ommegang Brewery, Market Manager. Duvel Moortgat, a publicly owned and traded Belgium company that brews Duvel, owns Ommegang.

Debbie Boening, Oak Beverages, President and Chief Executive Officer. Oak Beverage is  a “leading New York Metropolitan are beer wholesale distributor and part of the 107 -year old, fourth generation Boeing beer distribution group.” She is the only woman.

Tomorrow: Part Two: What they said.

* All the text in quotes is from the handout at the talk.

A New York Minute

We have had a few busy days so I don’t really have time to write much. I did make a commitment to myself to blog everyday while in New York so this will have to suffice. Tonight we are going to one of the activities of NY Craft Beer Week, Women in the Beer Industry: from brewers to bar owners with Carol Stoudt, the first female brewmaster in the U.S., and others. Tomorrow I promise I will have a beer related post. Cheers!

Pre-Existing Conditions

About seven years ago my husband fell off a ladder. He was unconscious, broke his nose and chipped several teeth. He wound up spending two days in the hospital and got all sorts of tests. For the next two years a cardiologist was sure that there was something wrong with his heart; he just wasn’t sure what. During all this, our insurance company at the time, HMO Blue, started sending him material about living with congestive heart failure.  CHF was probably the only diagnosis the doctor hadn’t given him. However somewhere, someone coded the doctor’s as CHF. Insurance companies try to do a lot of education with people who have chronic diseases to help manage costs. That’s fine but not when you don’t have the disease. I was really worried that this would  wind up being a pre-existing condition that could prevent him from getting a different job in the future. It took me over a year to get HMO Blue to change the coding so he no longer appeared as having CHF. It is this kind of diagnosis by insurance companies that I hope President Obama’s health care reform will change for the better.

Quick Note

We had a full day, running along the river, a country fair with a petting zoo at Riverside Park and a  New York Liberty game. We wound up having a late dinner. One great thing about New York is how many places are open all night. The hamburgers were great but the beer choices were not. I settled on a Heineken on tap which I have decided is no better than Bud, just more expensive and slightly alcoholic.

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