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

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!

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.

Beer Summit

This evening, President Obama, Henry Louis Gates, and Sgt. Crowley will all have a beer together at the White House. Apparently there is not much other news – I guess there is nothing going on in Iraq, Afghanistan, the economy or health care and OctoMom’s reality show hasn’t started yet. Because of this dearth of news, newspapers and online news sites have  had a lot  to say about the beer summit. Much of the discussion has focused on what type of beer the three men will drink. Some American craft brewers are apparently offended that no domestically produced beer will be available. I think this is manufactured news and somewhat silly. Since this tempest in a teapot  or beer stein hasn’t generated much buzz, some news sources are trying to suggest that people will care about the President serving alcohol. Towards this end the Wall Street Journal spoke to the national president of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). Even if the WCTU was solely responsible for Prohibition as the article wrongly implies, is it still a relevant organization? I could not find out about membership figures for the WCTU  and it has affiliates in only five states. American society is not anti-alcohol and the number of people who totally abstain from drinking is a minority. To imply that President Obama will suffer a dip in his popularity because he drinks and serves beer is ridiculous.

Tobacco Legislation

Last week, Congress passed and President Obama signed legislation that greatly enhances federal regulation of the tobacco industry. As a historian, I generally think change happens slowly but the rapidity with which American society has transformed from cultural acceptance, even approval of smoking, to a completely negative view is starling.

When I was growing up, my parents and almost all the adults, I knew smoked. As a teenager and young adult smoking was both everywhere – bars, restaurants, public events and arenas – and heavily advertised on television. In the forty-five years since the Surgeon General’s report on the harm smoking causes, there has been a warning label, a ban on television advertising, the creation of smoke-free indoor space and, recently, smoke-free outdoor spaces.

The newspaper stories discussing the pending legislation use the term “addiction” to describe the practice of smoking. This also represents significant change. For much of American history, society has characterized nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol as legal, primarily harmless habits. Alcohol was usually the most problematic of the three. Now, nicotine, although legal, falls under the broad category of psychoactive, addictive substance, similar in their effects on the body.

Moralists have always viewed smoking as undesirable behavior. This attitude kept women from smoking for many years. When smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke became a public health issue, the battle lines changed. If alcohol use and or abuse ever became predominantly a public health issue rather than one of individual choice or morality, brewers and distillers could face more of an uphill battle to maintain the legitimacy of their industry.

This was cross-posted from Women Grow Business

“Am I a Woman in Business?” Learning to Promote Yourself the Same Way Businesses Do

amy-m-wgb-post-42009

Am I a woman in business, a businesswoman?
That is an interesting question for me to contemplate in writing a post for Women Grow Business. I started my website, AmyMittelman.com, and my blog, Musings, because I wrote a book, Brewing Battles: A History of American Beer.

Many years ago, I had a business, Academic Publicity, that provided promotional help for academic authors.

In retrospect, my business plan had a fatal flaw: academics didn’t want to pay for my services.

In general, academics do not think of themselves as writers and thus do not want to pay to increase their book sales. The existence of the book itself punches their tenure ticket. And most academics write only one book. The one major business success I had was getting my husband‘s book, Nazism, the Jews, and American Zionism, 1933-1948 into paperback.

New business, young family, and next steps
At the time that I was running Academic Publicity, I had completed a PH.D in American history and had two small children at home. I had started the business because I was realizing it was unlikely I would be able to get an academic job without significant disruption to my life.

The perfect vision of hindsight
Because of life’s increasing complexity with family, including buying a new home, I ended the business after two years. With the perfect vision of hindsight, I realized that was too short a time to grow a business. I pulled the plug on Academic Publicity so quickly because I was losing money and I already had some feelings of guilt because I had been unable to find an academic position.

I think inadequacy, guilt, and feelings of illegitimacy are all common problems for women as they negotiate between professional goals and family life. I ended the business and quickly looked around for some way to be gainfully employed.

I settled on becoming a nurse.
I have been a nurse for 14 years and have worked in many different healthcare settings. I do not feel that being a nurse replaced being a historian. I brought all the skills and lessons I had acquired from my academic career, my business, and my family life to my new profession. Again, I think this is typical for women.

Many women’s lives do not occur in a linear fashion.
Both male and female baby boomers are famous for second acts and continually reinventing themselves. I believe this has always been truer for women and has certainly been true for me.

Contemplating a book on beer
Although I enjoyed being a nurse, I had always wanted to publish my dissertation as a book and that remained a goal. About seven years ago, with an increased focus, I began to contemplate taking material from my thesis and writing a book on beer. I was fortunate enough to obtain a publishing contract in the spring of 2006 and Brewing Battles was published in December 2007.

I believe persistence was the key to my achieving this long held goal.

And to achieve anything you probably have to have a passion for the endeavor.

Algora Publishing (who published Brewing Battles) is a very small press, providing very little marketing support for my book. So I have had to market the book myself. Luckily, I had the experience from once running my business Academic Publicity to fall back on. However, in the 15 intervening years since I ended the business, publicizing and marketing books changed completely.

I have marketed the book in both traditional and new ways.
I sent out advance copies to various academic and trade journals, hosted a book party, and have given book talks. Of course, almost all of my correspondence and press releases have been via email (…haven’t done any direct mailings). And many blogs also received my press release about Brewing Battles, in addition to traditional print media.

Learning curves and achieving mastery on the blogosphere
The blogosphere represents the most significant change from the world of book marketing 20 years ago. Setting up my own blog was definitely a challenge with several false starts. Every new task I have attempted has come with a new learning curve and a deep sense of accomplishment when I achieve mastery.

Persistence is key here as well.

Finding the answer to “Am I a woman in business?”
So in answer to my original question, I am a writer and that means I am in business for myself. My varied life experiences have taught me that everything in life is about marketing, marketing yourself. Not in a conceited or self-absorbed way but in the sense that…

You have to put yourself forward and promote yourself in the same way that businesses do.

 

A Day in New York City

Yesterday I had to go to New York City for the day. After my appointment I had about four hours to kill before my train left. First I went to the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum which until 2000 was the Abigail Adams Smith House. I had chosen to go there because I thought it was the headquarters of the Colonial Dames of America. colonial-barbie

The CDA does manage the Museum but their offices and presumably archives are in the building next door. This was built in 1977 to look old. Oddly enough, this building looks worse than the museum, which was built in 1799 as a carriage house for the planned mansion of Abigail Adams Smith, John Adams daughter, and her husband. The museum does not have any artifacts pertaining to the Smiths which may be one reason they changed their mission.In 1826 Joseph Hart purchased the carriage house and turned it into a day resort, equivalent to a spa today.  Hart operated this business for seven years until 1833.

The museum only has a few things that are actually from the hotel. The rest of the artifacts are “of the period.”  This is often the case with small museums. No one was in at the CDA so I couldn’t talk to them.

After the 30 minute tour of the museum I ate lunch and then I went to Bloomingdales. I haven’t been in Bloomies in a very long time. The display windows  are full of Barbie doll mannequins because Barbie is 50 and Bloomingdales is celebrating her birthday. According to the New York Times the store is “leaning on Barbie to salvage its quarterly bottom line.”

On the third floor there must have been over one hundred Barbies from different years dressed as different careers including doctor and stewardess. There were also Barbies as different celebrity figures. Apparently the first one of these was Twiggy in the 70s but there is also one of Beyonce. Most of the dolls are from the 90s. The 1959 Barbie is a replica.I confess I still have my Barbie which dates from that time.

On the second floor the store is selling Barbie purses and replica dolls. There is also a display of life size mannequins in designer clothes. Although I didn’t plan on it, the day turned out to have a theme, Both the  Colonial Dames and Barbie represent American womanhood and ideals of femininity. Now I just have to figure out how they are connected.

%d bloggers like this: