March for Science: Women in Engineering

Having already set off a thunderous round of critique the previous day on Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, the March for Science Twitter account published a nearly identical post asking women to share the reasons why they left engineering. The response from scientists was equally critical.

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  1. With the Girl Day debacle fresh in mind, where March for Science asked "ladies" to explain the gender pay gap in engineering, the March for Science organisers tried a similar angle on 25 February 2017, again, in celebration of Girl Day. Despite the fact that the previous day's offensive tweet had been deleted as a result of the critique, the March for Science team thought it would be wise to try again.
  2. I discussed the fact that scientists had already provided useful resources and advice to enhance the March for Science diversity practices. The recurring mistakes, particularly one day to the next, were perplexing.
  3. I noted that the March for Science history was chequered on equity and inclusion. It started with a hastily written then heavily revised diversity statement. In fact, the only reason there was a diversity statement in the first place, is that it emerged in response to critiques by people of colour scientists pointing out flaws in the march communications. After Professor Steven Pinker derided the diversity statement on Twitter, the March for Science team seemed to distance itself from its early promises on supporting diversity and intersectionality (a concept linking gender inequality to racism and other forms of social disadvantage).
  4. Especially problematic is the fact that March for Science does not actively moderate discussions. Instead, its various social media accounts publish problematic questions and lead to controversy. At the same time, the March for Science social media administrators do not respond to conversations. When it comes to diversity in particular, this one-way approach to communication comes across as a weak commitment to inclusion.
  5. Equity and diversity work is difficult and requires perseverance. It is a specialist knowledge set that requires training and experience, whether through research, policy development or grassroots activism.
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