Representative Speier Calls on AAAS to Address Sexism in Science

In an open letter to Rush Holt (PDF – 974KB), the CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and executive publisher of Science, Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA) writes:

Women who speak out about these incidents have been subjected to torrents of online abuse, including rape and death threats. Female scientists from underrepresented minorities, already a small group, have been subjected to even more vociferous abuse and have received limited support from scientific institutions…At the beginning of the 21st century, while we are in the midst of exploring the solar system, unlocking the human genome, and creating ever-more-advanced technology, the demographics and attitudes of scientists and engineers must not be trapped in the 19th century.
Representative Jackie Speier

One of the things that was made apparent in the revelations about Geoff Marcy’s assaults on students was that our inherited culture of institutionalized science has favored protecting those in power over protecting those without. In many ways, the AAAS represents the scientific legacy of the United States. Representative Speier notes some missteps in Science that reflect that destructive culture.

The AAAS also has the opportunity to represent the future of science – a future that is inclusive and prioritizes the humanity of all. Representative Speier also notes the recent editorial by Bernard Wood in Science that chastises his fellow established scientists for failing to substantively address misconduct in their own ranks as a small step in the correct direction.

The third “A” in AAAS stands for “Advancement”. Representative Speier is asking the AAAS to recognize that overcoming its sexist heritage is a critical issue for the advancement of science into the 21st Century.

The Cutting Edge

If you are in the DC area tomorrow, the AAAS is hosting an interesting event that piggybacks off the Voyage of Discovery art installation by Jessica Beels, Ellyn Weiss, and our own Michele Banks called Cutting Edge: Art & Science of Climate Change:

Join AAAS for an evocative exchange as artists and scientists come together to interpret the effects of climate change on the poles…This live event features talks by two leading Arctic researchers, followed by a panel discussion on communicating climate change to the public.

“Cutting Edge: Art and Science of Climate Change” coincides with the art installation, “Voyage of Discovery,” currently in the lobby of AAAS headquarters. This remarkable exhibition, featuring works by Michele Banks, Jessica Beels, and Ellyn Weiss, explores a “hypothetical journey” to the poles where climate change has caused the ice to recede, reawakening life that has been frozen for millennia.

Cutting Edge will be held on Thursday, May 1 at 6:30PM at the AAAS Headquarters in Washington, DC.

Voyage of Discovery: The Slideshow

Michele posted fabulous pictures from Voyage of Discovery – her collaboration with Jessica Beels and Ellyn Weiss at the AAAS Art Gallery in Washington, DC – allowing those of us who cannot make it to the gallery to get a virtual taste of the experience.

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Voyage of Discovery – Michele Banks, Jessica Beels, and Ellyn Weiss

Art like this requires the talent and creativity of artists. That means our artists need our support. You can support these artists by visiting their websites:

Michele Banks

Jessica Beels

Ellyn Weiss

Artwork by Jessica Beels, Ellyn Weiss, and Michele Banks. All photos by Michele Banks. All rights reserved by respective copyright holders. Used with permission. 

Voyage of Discovery

I’d strongly encourage you to watch the video. Michele, Jessica, and Ellyn provide some very profound thinking about the ways scientists and artists view the world – and challenge both groups to learn from each other.

Even better. If you are in the DC area (or are traveling through), make some time to visit the exhibition in person. Make a point to support these talented artists.

Even betterer. Really support these artists by acquiring some of their work to keep near you at all times. Like their style, but don’t see the one thing you want most in the world. Ask about commissioning a piece. It is often cheaper than you think, yet makes you feel like plutocratic patron of the arts. And, that is a very good feeling.

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