Does it matter? Post-election recap, Part I


Does this election have to matter to us as scientists?

Indeed. It’s pretty likely that my world won’t have to change. I live in a white, liberal state, where “Republican” is usually just that – in quotes. We gave you Bernie, ok. I’m white. I was born the gender I identify with, I have an equally cis-gendered (cis=same), straight, white dude-life partner-person, so even though I identify as the B in the LGBTQ+ alphabet, I don’t have to tell you that. I already have an IUD.

My life, post-election, doesn’t have to change. I didn’t watch the news for years after Bush was re-elected. It worked that time.

But it does matter.

First, as a scientist, I am concerned about how our government treats science, whether science is respected and supported. Given the values of the president-elect, will the new administration care about science? What will happen to science-funding?

But it’s more than that. Here at DiversityJC, we discuss research around diversity in science, and how STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields can be more inclusive.

If our small pool of resources for scientific research shrinks further, will there be support for science around diversity, for science that strives to address environmental justice, or social justice, or diversity in science – or will it be the first to go?

Given the hateful rhetoric the president-elect has used, will anyone believe the new administration will value inclusion in funding proposals?

This rhetoric and behavior digs deeper than the support of scientific research. In Diversity Journal Club discussions, we’ve talked about the importance of inclusion for women in science, (also here), for minorities (also here), and for men too (also here). We’ve talked about the impact of bias on peer review, teach recommendations, even the accolades we give out and how we view ourselves.

Science believes itself to be objective. Above the fray. But nothing sums up what I’ve learned along the way than the fallacy of that belief. Science has deep issues around inclusion that mirror those of society at large. We are not above the fray – we can’t choose to believe that any longer. The rhetoric of the election and the president-elect, the people he is choosing to have around him, the resulting empowerment of hate groups… if the issues in science mirror those in society, we have to face these things too.

For example, how about addressing harassment in the workplace? Sexism in hiring and promotion? His right-hand man allowed news editorials to be printed on how there is no bias in tech, us ladies just suck at interviews (no I am not going to link to anything, I won’t give that site more traffic – search for “worst headlines Breitbart” if you must).

What of our immigrant communities in science? They are cornerstones at academic institutions and critical for the scientific enterprise (don’t believe me, just ask Nobel), but this election…

For these reasons, this election was unprecedented. This president-elect is unprecedented. For society. For science.

Yet, even in this despair, I see hope.

This is the silver lining, this is the long-term view that gives me hope. I am hearing more people talking about issues they never discussed before, wanting to be active for the first time on issues I didn’t even know they cared about. Maybe more people will ask questions, will listen, will be informed. Maybe more people will start paying attention to news they read, the “facts” they accept.

But that hope rests on whether or not we keep this fire alive, this desire to fight. We can’t normalize this, ignore it. Stop watching the news to, as Doctor PMS stated, save our sanity. We can’t allow this to not impact our lives. Given where we may be headed, we may not have a choice.

So….what we do? Our ideas and tips for action in the Post-Election Recap, Part II.


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