WHATS UP WITH CHICKS IN SCIENCE?: NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON ON MARGINALIZATION IN SCIENCE
Neil deGrasse Tyson, one of the most famed astrophysicists of our time, highlighted a very important point when the topic of lack of representation of women in the field of science came up at a recent conference, “Secular Society and its Enemies.”
Tyson made the brilliant connection between lack of representation of women and lack of representation of people of color in his answer to the awkwardly worded question, “what’s up with chicks in science?”
Although he could not speak for the struggles of women trying to break into various science fields he addresses the obstacles he faced as a black man trying to pursue a career in astrophysics. In his answer, Tyson does something we seldom see from people of color in higher positions in this country, he put the burden of correcting the lack of representation of marginalized groups in science careers on the institution not the people on the margins.
With the ever-growing attack on Affirmative Action and the 2013 gutting of the VRA, there is a national shift toward placing the burden of bettering oneself on the individual instead of the system that was designed to keep them out.
Tyson could have easily blamed people of color and women for not achieving the level of success he has attained. Many prominent people of color and women tend to reproduce this bootstrap logic (here’s looking at you former Secretary of State Condi, Justice Thomas, and The Queen of Neo-liberal feminism HRH Sandberg).
The question regarding the lack of women in sciences being posed by a man is important in that it shows that there is still the belief that women are responsible for their absence in sciences. As a white male—the common face of science—he did not ask what we as men in the sciences can do to make sure there are more women in science careers, but why women are not present in the sciences as if the burden of responsibility to be more represented is on women and/or people of color. | KEEP READING.