Barbie dolls are not real people. The pictures of actors and models in magazines are barely real people (thanks to Photoshop). The actress in this car commercial is not a real scientist.
It does, however, show anyone watching commercials during the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament a stylish woman of color driving a nice car and doing complex-looking mathematics* in her head.
It shows someone who is not white, not male, not bearded, not with crazy hair, not with disheveled clothes, not with sub-par social skills doing complex-looking mathematics* in her head.
As we increasingly recognize that recruiting and retaining a diverse STEM workforce requires presenting individuals in that field with whom they can identify, we have a car company showing us that. This actress may not be a real scientist, but my four-year-old daughter won’t know that her concepts of who can be a scientist will have been expanded positively by a commercial while Daddy watched Duke play basketball on TV.
*I do not have the gift for going “oh, that is X equation” on sight. So, I will leave it up to you, dear readers, to evaluate the actual complexity and accuracy of the mathematical imagery.
Screw your tommy guns. We’ve got SCIENCE!
If you like that, then you should consider backing the Jill Trent: Science Sleuth #1 Kickstarter campaign.
Suitable for all ages, the short stories in JILL TRENT, SCIENCE SLEUTH #1 include both a mix of “real” science and goofy sci-fi, celebrating women in science with an undercurrent of feminism.
With 5 different versions of the Science Sleuths, the unspoken theme is, hopefully, one of diversity and empowerment. The book celebrates women in science as well as female characters in comics.
HT: Cannot precisely recall whose feed I saw this RT’d in, but I think it was John Rennie.
If all else fails, use “significant at p>0.05 level” and hope no one notices.
–xkcd by Randall Munroe
I can’t say that I ever thought about doing this, but I can admit feeling enormous stress proofreading for “less than” signs pointing the wrong direction – an anxiety that may have been justified on more than one occassion.
xkcd by Randall Munroe (CC BY-NC 2.5)
Paige Brown Jarreau is a graduate student at LSU. Her PhD thesis is on the science of science blogging. To collect data for her project, she has setup an online survey for science bloggers, which you should be taking if you are a science blogger.
As the role of science blogging expands and diversifies in today’s science news ecosystem, the practices and routines of science bloggers remain under-studied.
The goal of my project is to survey science bloggers about their blogging practices. Please take this survey if you consider yourself to be a science blogger.
–Paige Brown Jarreau
I have taken the survey and found the self-reflection inherent in the process rewarding in its own right.