Mixed Emotions about Marching for Science

The day before the event, Science March DC co-chair Mona Hanna-Attisha said, in an interview with PRI,

“So I understand that [diversity in science and the Science March is] an issue, but I think there’s huge other diversity issues that we need to be tackling. I think where we need to be attacking diversity is not in science labs and in medicine but in our legislative offices.”

Yikes. Talk about deflating the enthusiasm of those of us scientists who pour hours of our time doing uncompensated work to try to make academia more inclusive and welcoming of underrepresented groups, or those of us who do research that demonstrates how the lack of diversity in science limits what we can discover about the natural world. Talk about invalidating the feelings of members of underrepresented groups in science who struggle daily with the impact of this absence of diversity on their work, their health, and their well-being.

sign skeptical

After much indecision, and holding onto some skepticism, I ended up going to the March for Science in Boston, and I was glad to be part of an affirmation of the importance of science to society. But I couldn’t help but wonder–if we had used the March for Science as an opportunity to truly strengthen our commitment to making science welcoming of underrepresented groups, if we had seen this as a chance to reckon with the bias and discrimination that plagues not only scientific progress but also how science impacts society, would a young, white man have marched at this event with a sign that said “Science is a pretty girl. Don’t you want to get to know her?”

 

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