Geoffrey Beene Gives Back (the philanthropy division of the clothing company Geoffrey Beene) is sponsoring a new organization called Rock Stars of Scientists. It is running an ad campaign in GQ magazine with pictures of scientists (such as Dr. Francis S. Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health) with rock stars (such as Seal and Sheryl Crow). When I first read about this organization, I thought that maybe I could feature a post today about a woman scientist doing awesome work. But guess what? All of the scientists listed are old, white men.
With my mouth dropped, I looked around the website for anything that specifically stated that they were focusing on “Men in Science”….umm, the answer is no. First of all, the campaign does include a woman rock star (Sheryl Crow). Second of all, no where in their mission did they explicitly state that this was a white mens-only affair. Here is their mission:
Our mission is to accelerate science from research bench to bedside.
Our motto: From cause to cure in our time.
Our most brilliant scientific minds are dedicated to finding cures for the diseases that threaten our future, and America’s most celebrated Rock Stars stand behind them.
In our lifetime, we deserve to see:
- Our brain span match our life span
- Early diagnosis improve our odds
- Our DNA become the blueprint for health
- Research funding as a national priority
The ad campaign is sponsored by Geoffrey Beene, a men’s clothing company and the ad campaign is going to be run in GQ, a men’s interest magazine. But seriously, where are the women/non-white scientists?
While Geoffrey Beene does donate 100% of their net profits to philanthropic causes that help underserved women (such as Family Violence Prevention Fund, Safe Horizon, and Go Red for Women), this ad campaign reinforces the stereotype that women do not excel at science and that science is not for women.
In response to this organization, I have my own list of “Rock Stars of Science” that include women:
- Dr. Nubia Munoz, connecting HPV with cancer
- Tebello Nyokong, improving cancer diagnosis and treatment
- Linda B. Buck, a neuroscientist, cancer research
- Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, HIV/AIDS researcher
I also got in contact with Meryl Comer, the President of the Geoffrey Beene Gives Back® Alzheimer’s Initiative in response to an email I sent to the campaign. I asked her why this campaign only had white men rock stars of science. She explained that many people didn’t nominate women in science, and those who she tried to get demanded first class accommodations. Also, the ad campaign running in GQ is only the beginning of Rock Stars of Science: she hopes to get a larger breadth of diversity. Meryl and I went into a long discussion as to why women/non-people weren’t nominated. She acknowledges that there are women and non-white men who are considered to be “Rock Stars of Science”—but wanted to know how to make criteria that would allow for people of different races, ethnicities, and gender to be nominated? Comer wants to know, “How would this criteria satisfy the feminist view?”
I’m hoping to get back to Comer in a day or so about what criteria would include a vast realm of doctors who are helping to improve human health. While I have some ideas of my own, I’d like to hear from some of you as to what you think the criteria would be. Comment away!