The Best Tweets from #GirlsWithToys

Kate Clancy is an anthropologist at University of Illinois who is studying evolutionary origins of women’s physiology and cultural origins of gender inequality. With that background, it is easy to see why she got angry over something said in an NPR piece that was part of the “Joe’s Big Idea” series.

In it, Joe Palca interviewed Shrinivas Kulkarni, who is a Caltech astrophysicist. In the interview, Shrinivas Kulkarni said: “Many scientists, I think, secretly are what I call ‘boys with toys’.”

In an article for Slate, Kate Clancy described some of the reasons why the phrase “boys with toys”, as a reference to scientists, bothered her. In response, she posted some photos of herself, her daughter, and some of the laboratory students (all of whom are female), doing science. She used the hashtag #GirlsWithToys.

It took off! Other women in science posted photos of themselves doing science (and the #GirlsWithToys hashtag). I collected some of the best Tweets from #GirlsWithToys in this blog. It is so vitally important for girls to see examples of women who are involved with science.

In the article she wrote for Slate, Kate Clancy pointed out some important facts:

…Research shows that middle school, a major time for gender identity development, is when many girls begin to lose a sense of having science be part of their identities. By high school many drop science classes despite outperforming the boys who stay. In higher education, implicit biases will continue to plague her: Recent work presented by Daniel Z. Grunspan at the American Association of Physical Anthropologists meeting, for instance, demonstrated that in biology classrooms, male students are not only evaluated by their peers as more competent, but male students consistently underevaluate female students. In my own work, in a collaboration with Julienne Rutherford, Robin Nelson, and Katie Hinde, we have shown that female scientists in the field sciences, particularly trainees, face hostile work environments, including sexual harassment and assault.

When a male Caltech astrophysicist defines “scientist” as “boys with toys”, he is sending a harmful message. He’s telling women (and young girls) that they don’t belong in science fields or careers. That’s for “boys”, he implies. He’s also telling men (and young boys) that they are the only ones who should be scientists. This could influence men and young boys to look down upon their fellow students and co-workers in science who are female.

I’m absolutely delighted that so many women got on Twitter to make it clear that there are there are plenty of women who are scientists. I’m glad they posted photos of the “toys” they use while doing science. Their response made it perfectly clear that “boys with toys” is not an accurate definition of “scientist”. In doing so, they encouraged women who are working on STEM degrees to continue, and girls and female teenagers who are interested in science that they belong there.

Lisa Harvey-Smith is a Project Scientist for the Australian SKA Pathfinder.

Tanya Harrison is a Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration Ph.D. student and former MRO CTX/MARCI and Mars Curiosity Rover ops team member.

Louisa Preston is an astrobiologist and planetary geologist.

Angelica Torices is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Alberta.

Philippa Demonte is a geophysicist and volcanologist.

Ruth Reef is an ecophysiologist of coastal plants and a Marie Curie Fellow.

K.E.M. Lindblom is an astronomer and observatory manager.

Karina Voggel is a PhD student in astronomy at the European Southern Observatory. She is working on dwarf galaxies and UCDs.

Marianne Mader is a STEAMLabs co-founder, a NASA datanaut, and a planetary science Ph.D candidate at the Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration.

Jackie Faherty is an astronomer at Carnegie Institution for Science and American Museum of Natural History.

Nicole is an astrophysics Master’s-to-PhD Bridge student at Fisk and Vanderbilt Universities.

Laurie Leshin is President of Worcester Polytechnic Institute and has worked with the Mars Curiosity Rover.

Laura Bretherton is a marine biology Ph.D student. Her Ph.D is on ocean acidification effects on plankton.

Cynthia Froning is an astronomer and instrument builder for telescopes.

Sarah is doing a Ph.D in genomic evolution (specifically in whale vision).

Athena Andreadis is a research scientist who is studying the molecular causes of dementia.

Marcelle is a Brazilian astrophysicist at Fermilab.

Asha de Vos Ph.D is a marine biologist.

Elly Weber is a biologist and environmental scientist.

Rachel Tilling is a Ph.D student at NERC Centre for Polar Observation and Modeling. She is exploring the physics of Arctic seas ice and climate via satellite.

Dr. Jere Boudell is a riparian plant ecologist and technologist.

Meenakshi Wadhwa is a scientist and explorer. She is Director of the Center for Meteorite Studies at Arizona State University and a professor at the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University.

Jennifer Middleton is a Geochem grad student.

Alice Emma Louise is a Ph.D research student at the University of Liverpool.

Caitie McCaffrey is a “Backend Brat & Distributed Systems Diva” at Twitter. She was formerly at 3431 building Halo Services with Orleans.

Helen Johnson is an astronomer, STEM ambassador and Science Grrl (@Science_Grrl). She is also a Durham Ph.D student who studies distant galaxies.

Amber Straughn is a NASA astrophysicist.

Imogen Whittam is an astrophysicist at the University of the Western Cape.

Chihiro Tokoku is a physics and astronomy instrument engineer.

Anna Frebel is an astronomer and stellar archaeologist and a professor at MIT. Layette Betre is a physics and political science major at MIT.

Kathy Mandt is a planetary scientist who is studying Titan, Mars, the Moon, Earth, and comets. She is working on Rosetta and LRO.

Sarah T. Stewart is a planetary physicist at Harvard.

Jedidah Isler is an astrophysicist.

Tania is a National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NARO) director.

Janice Brahney is a biogeochemist, paleolimnologist and aquatic ecologist.

Allyson Roe is a lab manager.

Nic Loaring is an outreach astronomer at the South African Astronomical Observatory.

Lisa Buckley is a paleontologist and ichnologist.

Marjorie Willner is an EnviroNano Engineer Ph.D student at Virginia Tech CEE.

Nicole Ritter is a chemist.

Paula Salgado is a structural biologist.

Maggie Masetti works at NASA Goddard as the social media lead and web manager for the James Webb Space Telescope.

Dr. Sandy Briden is a Twickenham based science educator, online analytical chemistry course content manager and tutor and an NMR forensic chemistry doctorate.

Catherine Garland is an astrophysicist and teacher.

Kirsten Hecht is grad student at University of Florida and a stream ecologist.

Susanna Kohler is an astrophysics Ph.D student.

Jessamyn is a nonscientist and “electron finagler”.

Caleigh MacPherson is a robot builder, mechanical engineer, and a NASA Solar System Ambassador.

Vinita M. is the founder of, a spacesuit designer at the European Space Agency, and an International Space Station Operations Engineer.

Ally Evans is a marine ecologist who works on habitat enhancement of coastal defenses and artificial reefs.

Beth Johnson is a physics undergrad and research astronomer.

Michelle E. is a Ph.D astronomer and support scientist at the Large Binocular Telescope Observatory.

Abbie Hutty is the IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year 2013 and maker of Mars Rovers.

Dr. Louise Hughes is an electron microscopist at Oxford Brookes University.

Clara Nellist is a particle physics postdoc and science communicator. She is working on ATLAS experiment at CERN.

Stephanie Juneau is an astrophysicist.

Hannah Roberts is an environmental radiochemistry Ph.D student.

Sara Fowell is a Ph.D student at the University of Southampton. She is a coral geochemist and climate reconstructor.

Sarah Norris is an observational atmospheric scientist.

Miriam Shellabear is a UCLan undergrad studying forensic anthropology and genetics.

Jenny Turton is a Ph.D student with the British Antarctic Survey and Leeds University.

Daniela Bortoletto is a particle physicist working on the ATLAS experiment at LHC and CERN. She is also a physics professor.

Dr. Nicola Wardrop is a MRC funded Senior Research Fellow at Southampton University. She is a spatial epidemiologist focused on neglected zoonotic diseases.

Becky Wragg Sykes is a Marie Curie Actions Fellow at the University of Bordeaux. She is researching Neanderthal technology and territories.

Dawn Ruth is a “physical volcanologist masquerading as a geochemist” at the Earth Observatory of Singapore.

Vanessa Moss is an astronomer.

Kate Dobson is a geologist who is researching 3D and 4D structures and processes using x-rays.

Rose Schwartz is an early wetland ecologist interested in plant physiology and biogeochem. She is currently studying restoration and carbon cycling in Thuja occidentalis swamps.

Catherine is a research scientist.

Fiona Soper is a bigeochemist, a plant physiologist, and a Cornell grad student.

Sarah Rowe is an archaeologist and anthropologist.

Julie is an experienced MRI research radiographer.

Kasey Pregler is a Ph.D student at Clemson University. She is studying fisheries ecology with a focus in occupancy modeling and issues in imperfect detection.

Hetty Helsmoortel is a molecular biologist who is fighting childhood leukemia in a lab at Ghent University.

Alexandra del Carpio is an Ph.D graduate student in chemical engineering at UC Berkeley.

Sara Gettel is an “astronomer turned data scientist”.

Valerie Jamieson is a Features editor at New Scientist and an ex-particle physicist.

Nujoud Merancy is a rocket scientist.

Judith Sleeman is a cell biologist at the University of St. Andrews. She is interested in the links between the structure of the cell nucleus, RNA metabolism and diseases such as SMA.

Dr. Elizabeth Sargent is a teacher who has celiac disease and tweets about ocean science, microscopy and phytoplankton.

M.B. O’Neill is a genetics graduate student at UW-Madison.

Kate Laskowski is a behavioral ecologist.

Michelle Cain is an atmospheric scientist.

Jane Rigby is an astronomer who researches black holes and galaxies and who uses telescopes around the world and in space. She helps build WWebb Telescope at NASA.

Lucy Bell is an immunologist and a medic.

Alessondra Springmann is an asteroid radar astronomer.

Cynthia Pridmore is a geologist.

She is a lunar geologist and an artist.

Emily Lakdawalla is a Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist and a planetary scientist.

C.C. Peterson is an astronomer and a science writer.

Patricia Valoy is a civil engineer.

Jamie Rothenburger is a veterinarian who practices pathology.

Image by Betsy Weber on Flickr.

2 comments to The Best Tweets from #GirlsWithToys

  • May 17 – 23, 2015 | Stuff Jen Wrote  says:

    […] The Best Tweets from #GirlsWithToys This hashtag is a pushback to a comment made by a male astrophysicist who described scientists as […]

  • Molly Clune  says:

    Thank you for compiling this! Sometimes I google myself and it’s fun when things like this come up 🙂 So many amazing women doing so many amazing things!

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