He helped was part of a scientific all-start team that was able to build the technology for a mission with the first successful landing on a comet, but Dr. Matt Taylor’s fame may be tied more to his poor choices in attire than his scientific acumen.
The space scientist broke down in tears today as he apologized for his unfortunate choice of clothing when he sat for an interview with the rest of the team — wearing a shirt bearing images of sci-fi sexploitation-style, hyper-sexualized women in bondage gear, brandishing guns.
In recent days the heavily-tattooed London scientist had enjoyed a burst of public admiration and fame for his work on the mission. But the shirt changed things for many women, who felt that the shirt was alienating to women involved in STEM. (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math professions.)
STEM careers are traditionally dominated by men, and nothing says male-dominated more than wearing a shirt sexualizing women for a presser.
No no women are toooootally welcome in our community, just ask the dude in this shirt. https://t.co/r88QRzsqAm pic.twitter.com/XmhHKrNaq5
— Rose Eveleth (@roseveleth) November 12, 2014
The Verge breaks down how casual misogyny makes its way into professions in the science field, and some of the long-term ramifications for women who can be made to feel that there’s no place for men in these industries except when baring all on a shirt on across an important (male) scientists’ chest:
This is the sort of casual misogyny that stops women from entering certain scientific fields. They see a guy like that on TV and they don’t feel welcome. They see a poster of greased up women in a colleague’s office and they know they aren’t respected. They hear comments about “bitches” while out at a bar with fellow science students, and they decide to change majors. And those are the women who actually make it that far. Those are the few who persevered even when they were discouraged from pursuing degrees in physics, chemistry, and math throughout high school. These are the women who forged on despite the fact that they were told by elementary school classmates and the media at large that girls who like science are nerdy and unattractive. This is the climate women who dream of working at NASA or the ESA come up against, every single day. This shirt is representative of all of that, and the ESA has yet to issue a statement or apologize for that.
Astrophysicist Katie Mack told reporters earlier this week, “I don’t care what scientists wear. But a shirt featuring women in lingerie isn’t appropriate for a broadcast if you care about women in science.” During a press briefing this afternoon on the progress of the Rosetta mission, Dr. Taylor appeared visibly upset and struggled to speak. Eventually he said: “I made a big mistake and I offended many people and I am very sorry about this.”
People make mistakes. It’s important to own up and talk about them. Let’s make STEM an open, welcoming place for women. #shirtstorm — Rachel Feltman (@RachelFeltman) November 14, 2014
Thank you for your heartfelt apology, @mggtTaylor. I know you only had a brief moment to say anything. More later? #shirtstorm
— Karen James (@kejames) November 14, 2014
And for the most part, it seems, his (rather short) apology was accepted. The question remains — was a lesson actually learned? Maybe.
Some dudes really get it. 🙂
Day 6571 as a scientist. STILL not wearing shirt demeaning to women. How long can I keep this up?! #shirtstorm pic.twitter.com/6s9fVSJ3Dc — Steven Theiss (@Theiss9030) November 14, 2014
Sigh. Talk about becoming P-Whipped by the feminazi corps.
Yeah, lol, asking men to dress professionally when representing their profession is a sure sign of being p-whipped, dudebro.
I think his colleagues and bosses had every right to ask he wear something more appropriate for an international interview.
It’s a free country and he can wear what he wants as long as it is within company rules. Just because some gyno-supremacists threw a fit over what was on the fabric, this guy was mercilessly tormented.
LO, number one, he is in London, which I guess England is a free country, although they have much stricter laws about speech etc. But if you’ve ever held a professional job, you would know that you can’t wear whatever you want to work. And then there’s also that whole “free country” thing where people can say whatever they want about what people wear, because free speech and freedom of opinions, etc.
If you think that professionalism =gyno-supremecy, theni t’s high time you attempt to join the wok force and learn that in the professional world, professional decorum is enforced among all workplace cultures. Not by vaginas.
I’d love to see you shout to high heavens about gyno-supremecy at your male boss when you wear a shirt bearing scantily clad women to an office job and get fired for it lol
I don’t think it is feminazi. I am a female and I see nothing wrong with the shirt. Then again I am also a Sci-Fi type of gal too. To each their own but really it was not offense. I have seen worse at my kids school from other parents.
How oppressed these women are, what with everyone bending over backwards to make sure that they’re pampered and insulated from harm.
Did you notice that his boss was a woman?How pampered and insulated she must be as she manages a highly skilled team of scientists. I wonder if they keep a fainting couch around for her?
Wait a minute, you’re saying that even though the science world is actively excluding and ostracizing women, this guy’s boss is a woman? Wow. It’s almost like her knowledge and passion for science is all that matters to her and her team and anybody else.
I think the reason I had a problem with this shirt is that if little kids in an assembly were watching the interview, it would be a very difficult thing to explain. “Why is that scientist wearing naked ladies on his shirt?” would be inevitable and they’d probably have to send a letter home lol.
The shirt is a matter of professionalism. When you are attending a historical event, gaudy clothing is probably a “bad idea”.
I bet the Catholic schools were in an uproar, too, lol. Probably a lot of people had a WTF moment.
It’s true that it was an unfortunate choice in shirt, but I think his apology is genuine. He clearly feels bad about what happened. Or at least he feels bad about having been called out on it.
Me too. I hope it doesn’t ruin the whole mission. They are doing amazing work.
I think that we have all had that “poor clothing choice” problem at least once in our lives. I agree that for an international interview it wasn’t the best professional looking choice, but someone else should have seen this before hand and maybe said something to him about it.
The shirt is rather inappropriate for a publicized interview, if he knew in advance he’d be on camera. But, I really think the uproar is making a mountain out of a molehill.
I completely agree. It really wasn’t the best choice for a public interview, but maybe he didn’t know that he was going to be on the air. I don’t think that he should be publicly humiliated the way he has been because the work they are doing is so much more important than what he is wearing.