One scientist’s tweet has perfectly summed up why women struggle to be taken seriously in science.
From one UK city to the next, we can see numerous statues honouring male scientists and their invaluable contributions to the field. But, truth be told, how many famous female scientists have been named and honoured in the same way? Marie Curie?
For women in 2018 who have broken into the male-dominated field of science, a stigma still surrounds women studying or working in STEM.
Which is why AI program director and astrophysicist, Amber Roberts, @AstronomerAmber, didn’t hesitate in sharing a misogynistic reaction to her work equipment while she was recently in an airport.
Taking to Twitter, she wrote:
“*I take out both of my laptops at airport security*
“Random guy: *scoffs* ‘What do you need 2 laptops for?’
“Me: ‘Well one is for my astrophysics work and one is for my artificial intelligence work.’”
Not only did the man enquire about Roberts’ two laptops in a patronising voice, but he also asked her to repeat herself (because he probably couldn’t wrap his head around a woman actually working in STEM).
Since sharing the tweet, Roberts has been met with many men challenging if it’s possible for a woman to be an expert in two fields.
“What saddens me about the subreddit is that no one is commenting on the fact that the guy didn’t deserve an answer, but are focusing on why I don’t need two laptops,” she tweeted. “Also that there is no way ‘this girl’ could be considered an expert in both fields #genderbias.”
But the sexist responses she’s been met with have only further clarified why she’s determined to showcase women’s success within the male-dominated field.
“This isn’t the first, nor will it be the last time something like this happens to me,” Roberts tweeted. “The reason I am sharing this experience is because these are important things to keep in mind when we are trying to solve the problem of getting more women involved in tech #womenintech.”
Only 23% of the UK’s entire STEM workforce are female and currently, just 9% of young women, compared to 29% of boys, opt to study a degree or Level 4 qualification in maths, physics, computer science or engineering, research by charity WISE found in 2017.
Many women have commented on the tweet by thanking Roberts for sharing the incident:
You can read more here on women who’re also actively promoting women in the subject, and encouraging other women to get involved, too.