- Within the first couple of days of the Twitter and Facebook profiles being established, the March for Science follower count ballooned from a couple of hundred people to several thousands. By the 13 February 2017, the Twitter account had amassed over 323,000 followers, their public Facebook page accumulated 348,000 likes, and the private Facebook community has over 827,000 members.
- The issue of diversity has been a principle concern among scientists who have been following the evolution of March for Science.
- I use the term diversity because this reflects the language of the March for Science organisers, however diversity has a specialised meaning in the empirical literature. Diversity refers to the variety, balance and disparities that we study across the natural, physical and social sciences. The study of diversity is not simply about acknowledging differences. It is also the critical reflection of how we come to understand and value these differences.
- In the scientific literature, diversity encompasses issues of equity (barriers, issues and solutions to structural disadvantage); access (opportunities and impact on participation by underrepresented groups); and inclusion (valuing and respecting differences).
- When the March for Science Twitter account began engaging with the public, it quickly became apparent that the organisers of the march may lack experience on equity, inclusion. In particular, the issue of intersectionality was lacking from communications. This is the recognition that gender and race mutually affect experiences of inequality, alongside other issues like homophobia, transphobia, class and ableism (discrimination against people with disabilities).
- In response to these critiques, the March for Science organisers released a diversity statement that went through a couple of iterations. First published as a general statement on the homepage of their old website and then as a post on Facebook. The latest revised statement was published on their new website on 29 January 2017. Their public Facebook page was established two days later, with the first post published on 27 January 2017.
Diversity statements on Twitter
- During the three-week period under review, the March for Science Twitter account had published around 1,500 tweets.
- There have been 14 tweets that directly address the diversity plans for March for Science. These are largely apologetic in response to critiques about the lack of clarity on the objectives of the march as they relate to diversity. There are also messages of contrition for tweets that otherwise reproduce inequity or exclusion of underrepresented scientists.