It was supposed to be the best day ever…
Landing an object that could fit in the back of your car on a comet too small to accommodate a few holes of golf over 500 million kilometres from here with 10-year old technology that has been travelling in the forbidding cold of interplanetary space for a decade? Yeah, that’s something to be proud of. And then there was the shirt and the comment(1)…
While the faux-pas was really bad, Dr. Matt Taylor must have felt like he was being hit by a truck on the most important day of his professional life when the #shirtstorm hit the fan.
In the video below he is apologising and you can clearly see that his mistake spoilt it for himself way more than for women scientists and aspiring girls worldwide. His apology is not shallow, it’s really, really, really hard! Matt Taylor is an individual who found himself completely exposed, being the target of a storm of disapproval. Imagine yourself in his shoes for a second. For a day you’re all over the internet, and then it turns sour. You might as well be naked (pun not intended) in front of a crowd of hungry predators. It’s the sort of horror humiliation scenario that should not happen anymore once you leave primary school(2)…
This episode shows the power that we (whoever joins in this cause) have. We must remember that and we should use it wisely, especially when it targets one individual! A person can be broken with that amount of public opprobrium.
Thank you Matt Taylor for the apology. Sorry your big day got spoilt like that. It’s a very high price to pay for a stupid choice.
And it takes nothing away from the amazing feat of landing a probe on a comet, we’re all in utter awe of the whole team!
Can we please put it aside now and get to the science?
The cause of women in STEM will keep making progress thanks to our common voice but there’s really no use to bash Matt Taylor anymore, he’s been *punished* more than enough!
(1) The shirt: Scantily clad cartoon women in sexually suggestive poses. Apparently a reference to some Sci-Fi saga. The comment: “She’s sexy but I never said shes easy…” said about the comet, apparently trying to be funny.
(2) Horror humiliation scenario that happens in school: Like the day you have the school show and it’s a really big deal and it’s such a big deal that you wet yourself on stage and all the parents and teachers and all the other kids see it and make fun of you.