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Reaction Wednesday #1: Framing, (Social) Justice and Parity

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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Reaction # 1: Framing: Woman Fired From a Shelter After Photographing the Animals

Emily Tanen was hired to be liaison between Animal Care and Control of NYC and the roughly 150 rescue groups that take animals from city shelters.  Photography was explicitly NOT a part of her job description, but she did it anyway. The pictures (and the manner in which) the Shelter took pictures of animals just don’t compel people or rescue groups to adopt animals, which euthanizes ~25% of the animals in their care.

And I quite agree, take a look at REX - ID#A916624. The photo is of poor quality and the lighting is not flattering at all. He looks frightened and ready to scratch out if you get too close. What about this picture makes him seem like he’d be perfect for a family?

from Animal Care & Control of NYC Adoption page

My reaction to this story isn’t so much about the injustice to Ms. Tanen, as it is a perfect example of how framing – literally and figuratively – makes a very important statement.  By taking quality photographs of the animals, highlighting them in relaxed comfortable poses, under warm lighting and in settings that people – potential adopters could relate to, actually yielded a desired outcome – an outcome that was an objective of her job description!  The light you portray individuals or ideas, or in this case condemned pets, can make others reconsider their opinions and actions.  Food for thought.

Reaction #2: (Social) Justice and Economic Parity: The Significance of Blacks in Biosciences

The Root published two stories – superficially under-related about Blacks and BioSciences.
Story #1: DNA Evidence Frees Four Black Men. Thanks to science four innocent men, convicted for murder have now been released from prison. The Innocence Project has been using scientific forensic evidence to exonerate individuals and rescue many from death row.  It’s a perfect story of how science intersections with justice (and social justice, since the incarceration rate of African-Americans is disproportionately high).

Story #2: Amarantus BioSciences Tops Black Tech List highlights the achievement of this biotech company’s co-founders Mr. Gerald Commissiong and Dr. John Commissiong.  Mr. Commissiong received a B.Sc. in Management Science and Engineering from Stanford University and Dr. Commissiong received graduate degrees in Biochemical Pharmacology and  Neurophysiology from  University of Southampton. In January they will attend  12th Annual Innovation and Equity Symposium and will discuss a variety of relevant topics relating to African Americans, including the low participation of African-American students in math and science courses.  However, I see a connection between these stories that tell a salt-and-sugar-tale of why achievement in science (and math) education matters and how access to careers in science can have such profound effects on the lives of people.   Science can be an effective tool to resolving social injustice and eliminating disparities – in health and income.  There’s a lesson here. I hope influencers in the African-American community are paying attention.

Reaction #3: Gender Parity in Tech: Women and Girls

Thanks to a tweet from Anil Dash, I came across this very informative and powerful video by Carolyn Drucker How to Get More Women in Tech in Under a Minute.

I was listening to her and nodding in complete agreement. I have had this very same conversation – in my head. I knew an older gentleman  who offered addressed me as Little Danielle.  Once, when we were having a conversation about one of my sheros, Dr. Mae Jemison, he referred to her as “that girl who went to space.” I quickly corrected him and said, “Woman. She’s a woman.” He immediately agreed and said, “Of course.” I was trying to shake off the shock I was feeling and wondered why he referred to women – even women who were his contemporaries as girls.  After watching this video, I realized why it nagged me and it nags at me still adult women refer to ourselves as girls in a professional setting.  Now, I comprehend the strength of those consequences.

DNLee About the Author: DNLee is a biologist and she studies animal behavior, mammalogy, and ecology . She uses social media, informal experiential science experiences, and draws from hip hop culture to share science with general audiences, particularly under-served groups. Follow on Twitter @DNLee5.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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