bionet.bionette or bionet.women ?

Una Smith una at
Wed Sep 2 10:09:36 EST 1992

kristoff at (David Kristofferson) writes:

>The discussion about the name of the newsgroup is something that needs
>to be resolved before the newsgroup is established[...]

>The first point that I'd like to make, Una, is that the name did not
>originate with me and that there is no need to wait for me to go on
>vacation to discuss changing it.  [...]

That was not my intent at all.  I should have appended a smiley face,
I suppose.  It has been my impression that you (Dave) follow every
discussion in the bionet hierarchy, and feel obligated to participate
and/or comment on most topics.  I hoped that we could discuss the
name change and come up with a decision with a minimum waste of your
time.  The issue of what to name the new group seems to be bringing
out quite a few misunderstandings and antagonisms, and generally in-
tolerant attitudes. 

>This is not an auspicious beginning.

No indeed.

>My suggestion is that Cassandra collect suggestions and provide me
>with a new name if the current one is that distasteful.  We need to
>get this resolved *before* we create the group.

I will forward the mail I have received on this issue to Cassandra.
Those of you who have sent me mail need not send additional e-mail
to her unless you have something more to say.

>I would vote strongly against bionet.women because the name is too
>broad and will attract casual postings on women's issues that are much
>broader than those related primarily to women biologists. 

Dave is right about this, unfortunately.  I wish I'd thought of it
myself sooner.  Even a cryptic name such as WISENET does not prevent
all traffic of the soc.women style, which is clearly desirable to a
large number of women, but un-welcome to many others.  But a name 
other than ".women" will help to keep the group from being over-run
with people who want to talk about any and all women's issues.  Some
bionet readers may in fact want a bionet group in which to do exactly
that:  such groups already exist and I agree with Dave that the
bionet domain is not the place in which to create another one.

Some fuel for the fire:

	bionet.wbs	Women in Biological Sciences
	bionet.wi	Women's Issues

Whatever name the group ends up with, I'd like to address the
underlying motivation for a moment.  Initially, I was opposed 
to the creation of a new group for or about women in biology,
mostly because I didn't think there was any real demand for
one.  I am virtually the only woman who ever posts in the
bionet groups, and I figured that there weren't many women
reading the groups.  However, a cursory inspection of the
subscriber lists for a number of LISTSERV mailing lists that
I follow showed that there were between 30 and 50 percent
women subscribers.  I can not inspect the subscriber lists for
bionet, but if women are similarly represented there, then I
want to know why they are so disproportionately silent!  

Several months ago, there was a long discussion on WISENET
about how women graduate students tend not to speak up, and
the reasons for this.  There was fairly general agreement 
that women are not repressed by the faculty or other students,
but rather that they silence themselves.  One measure of
success for a woman graduate student is learning to speak
up and participate fully in the educational process (and in
reseach in general).  I am saddened to see evidence of the
same phenomenon in the discussions here on bionet.  The 
number of private e-mail messages I received on the topic
of the new group name underscores the problem.  So, Steve,
I didn't make up the numbers, but you're right to be bothered
by them.



Una Smith   una at    Department of Biology
                                Yale University
                                New Haven, CT  06511-7444

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