Storify is closing and over the coming weeks, I will be migrating my posts to my blog. This is an archive of my article first published on Storify on 23 February 2017. It is the second of two posts presenting content analysis of the March for Science social media posts on gender equity and diversity. These materials supported research for two publications on Latino Rebels and Diverse Scholar.
Below is a collection of public social media posts promoting themes of diversity in science, as shared by the March for Science Twitter and Facebook accounts. I also include posts promoting media articles on the march, as these provide insight on the organisers’ goals. This resource documents the dearth of engagement with equity and diversity issues, despite extensive activity by the March for Science social media accounts over the period studied (24 January to 13 February 2017, where the March published around 1,500 tweets and 78 Facebook posts). Media interviews emphasised messages that were the antithesis of equity and diversity, claiming that the march was not political and that it would focus on science, but not scientists. This followed early criticism of the March by people of colour, disabled scholars, White women and other marginalised groups who critiqued the way the organisers were managing inclusion.
March for Science is “non-partisan”
The March for Science published around 1,500 Twitter posts from the time they launched in late January 2017, to mid-February, where critiques from minority scientists and White women reached a peak. Three posts reinforce the position of the March for Science organisers that the march is “non-partisan.” This is a theme that is reinforced in media interviews by the organisers. I include these posts here as they supplement other public comments from the march organisers that the protest is “not political.” This argument has been used by public supporters of the march to dispute statements on the need for diversity at the march (analysis forthcoming).
Recognition that diversity affects science
There have been 10 tweets that speak to the theme of diversity in STEMM.
Note that, other than one tweet on the 26 January, the rest of these diversity tweets began on 29 January, after March for Science responded to various critiques, especially from people of colour scientists as well as White women scientists on Twitter. On the one hand, this shows that the co-organisers of March for Science are trying to respond to diversity. On the other hand, this only happened after sustained critique that included underrepresented scientists explaining basic concepts of diversity as well as providing links to diversity resources. This suggests that the organisers lack professional expertise about diversity issues.
There are clear gaps in these communications: issues and achievements of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual scientists (LGBTQIA), are completely absent, as well as recognition of the scientific contributions and concerns of scientists with disabilities. There are only a couple of posts about scientists who are refugees of Jewish and Muslim background. These tweets are in connection to President Trump’s Executive Order on immigration and visas.
Other than one tweet referencing that the leadership team will address intersectionality, these tweets do not really reflect a deep understanding of this concept.
Black History Month
During the period under review, March for Science has tweeted only twice on Black History Month, two weeks into this significant cultural event.
To provide some context, on 6 February 2017, March for Science published 12 tweets about SuperbOWL (a tongue-in-cheek antithesis to Superbowl Sunday that celebrates owl facts rather than American football). From 11–12 February, there were 23 tweets on Darwin Day (see Appendix A at the end).
There is clear room for enhanced promotion of historical Black scientists and their achievements by comparison.
Actual Living Scientist
There have been six tweets and retweets of posts promoting women using the #ActualLivingScientist hashtag. This was a social media campaign started by Dr David Steen and Mary Roblyer to promote public awareness of working researchers.
International Day of Women and Girls in Science
March for Science has done a little better on gender diversity over 11–12 February, on International Day of Women and Girls in Science. During this 48-hour period, March for Science tweeted and retweeted 31 posts paying homage to women in science. Still, there are limits, with no recognition of women with disabilities or LGBTQIA women scientists. This might have been a good opportunity to educate their followers on intersectionality in STEMM.
The March for Science published 78 Facebook posts from the time they launched their Facebook page, to mi-February 2017. Collectively, there have been only six Facebook posts addressing diversity themes of religious freedom and women in science.
Recognition that diversity affects science
March for Science has published two Facebook posts that address President Trump’s Executive Order on immigration and visas, which affects scientists born in seven Muslim-majority countries.
Women in science
The March for Science Facebook page has published four posts that show recognition for women in science; three of them on International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
PROMOTED MEDIA ARTICLES
These articles are mostly focused on Science March, featuring interviews with the co-organisers. A couple of the articles discuss issues supported by March for Science (the need to support “facts” and science). The latter feature at least one positive reference to March for Science. To date, the same articles are cross-posted to Twitter and Facebook, though with less frequency on Facebook.
For the period under review, the March for Science account had not engaged with articles that discuss diversity efforts for the march in an in-depth manner.