Interview: Bill Nye And The Science March

I was interviewed for this article by BuzzFeed on March for Science:

Bill Nye, Dr Lydia Villa-Komoroff, and Dr Mona Hanna-Attisha
Source: Buzzeed

“It took one tweet by one high-profile male scientist for the organisers to completely retreat from the diversity statement that they put out” Zuleyka Zevallos, a sociologist at Swinburne University in Australia, told BuzzFeed News. “It’s important because it shows that there’s a wavering commitment to diversity that is swayed by the status quo in science.”

I welcome the news of the three new honorary co-chairs of the march: Bill Nye, Dr Lydia Villa-Komoroff, and Dr Mona Hanna-Attisha, however there is a lot of work ahead to address diversity within the march. The news is also soured by the fact that Nye was going to be announced solo.

I was interviewed twice as a result. In my first interview I conveyed strong disappointment at the decision to make a White man the face of the march and noted that a woman of colour would have been a step forward. I also argued that the organisers needed to appoint transgender women and women with disabilities to address key gaps in leadership. Around this time, the STAT News article came out (for which I was also interviewed) and caused more controversy and so the organisers held off on announcing Nye. And so while these two accomplished women of colour scientists are wonderful leaders, they are, nevertheless, an afterthought. Their inclusion is also an outcome of strong negotiation by one of the women of colour on the committee and public lobbying by underrepresented scientists. Nye’s comments in this article are counter-productive:

“With respect to diversity — is that the key word here? There’s a diversity committee on the march, and they’re working this problem. I was born a dorky white guy who became an engineer. I’m playing the hand I was dealt. We can’t — this march can’t solve every problem all at once.”

The only reason Nye can make this argument – that diversity can wait and that it’s someone else’s problem – is because he’s a White man. His comments are ill informed and will only feed the detractors. Moreover, Lydia Villa-Komaroff and Mona Hanna-Attisha are practising scientists who have made a huge impact on pressing issues (insulin research and exposing lead poisoning in the Flint water crisis, respectively). It goes to the heart of problems in science that a White male personality gets top billing over more accomplished women of colour researchers.

Looking forward to better leadership moving forward, and for the march to make concrete progress on equity, inclusion and accessibility.

15 thoughts on “Interview: Bill Nye And The Science March

  1. Seriously…shut up. This is not helping what you and buzzfeed are trying to do, I sympathize with wanting to press the diversity issue in the sciences especially on the front of women since honestly the science fields do tend to have a bit of a lack in that department because not enough are enrolling in STEM programs earlier on which is how it should be fixed. All this is doing is giving people who actually care about fixing real problems a bad name and getting everyone pissed off at you. This is a march not for diversity but for science and you don’t have a right to choose who and who doesn’t attend. Fixing ten diversity problem isn’t something you do by just angrily yelling you actually get stuff to work. Ducking Pornhub is doing a better job than you and all your screaming about diversity and white privileges and all that. They at least are offering and giving STEM scholarships for women who have the qualifying Gpa so they can get a degree and pursue engineering and science careers in which they are desperately needed.


  2. For those commenting that they don’t want to read about equity and diversity – and using insults to do so – perhaps it’s time to unfollow my collection which is called “Sociology of Science.” Sociology offers critical thinking about taken-for-granted ideas about the world, and looking for solutions to social inequality.

    I’ve linked to my previous scholarly articles in this post which show why equity and diversity matters in science and to the March for Science. Please read those before making emotional claims dismissing inclusion. Having scientific practices become more equitable will only enhance outcomes as we will have more people thinking about, and responding to, pressing scientific issues and problems.

    Those who are violating my commenting policy with abusive comments, that’s your cue to exit. Feel free to do some reflection about your misdirected anger. My threads are for civil discussions of sociology and how to make science and society better.


  3. Bill H Bill Nye does not research climate change science, however, he does promote educated responses to this pressing world problem. He does so drawing on well-established science, supported by the overwhelming majority of the scientific community. Regardless, that’s not the point of this post. Your homophobia violates my commenting policy and I’ll be removing posts like yours anyone else’s who derails the conversation and those who are abusive.


  4. Lewis’s Law in action here, ie; comments on any post about feminism will demonstrate the need for it. It’s particularly disappointing to see this happening on discussions of the science march given that science is supposed to be committed to testing and challenging preconceptions. But there you are, people are people regardless.


  5. Absolutely Lewis’s Law Donna Buckles! It’s a shame that some people don’t want to think about the challenges for science, which include addressing equity and diversity. Most scientific societies are making great strides in implementing programs and looking for ways to make science more representative of the people do, and use, science. The March for Science really needs to take this same cue, especially if it wants to succeed in making policy changes beyond the 22 April.


Comments are closed.