This month I’ve been making a ton of progress on my project, including building my actual map. I often hear people on campus, especially my students, identify as a “visual person.” Personally, I’ve never felt like I work that way. I think of myself more as an auditory learner, and I rarely find myself naturally thinking about my research data in a visual way. This has been one of the reasons I have found doing a map project so interesting, because it has helped me see my work in new ways and connect different dots that I might have overlooked.
As I have been creating my content, I did not put a lot of time into thinking about about the location of each pin. I vaguely wanted to have a map with some geographic diversity. But I have been focused more on choosing pins that I felt best reflected my topic and figuring out how to craft a clear and engaging description of each pin. Once I started to build my map, I began to notice a number of interesting patterns. Women’s cycling was especially popular in the East Coast, Midwest and the Great Lakes areas, and my dissertation focuses on these regional areas. Yet the content for this project is not evenly distributed across these areas. Interestingly, I’ve noticed that many of the pins are clustered around the major hubs of the bicycling industry — cities and towns with big factories, bicycling magazines, cycling events like races and parades, and lots of bike shops. So far, it seems as though women’s involvement in the bicycling industry very much mirrors the industry itself, and women were less likely to design a new product, work in a shop, or build new frames in areas without a robust cycling scene. This may seem a bit obvious, but it was not to me going in to this project. I was not sure if their involvement would mirror the bicycling industry as a whole. But so far, it seems as though there are some major connections here. While I read all of the locations for each pin, seeing it on the map made this connection much clearer to me. I hope my project will inspire other types of connections as I get ready to launch it next month.