A sassy way to highlight minorities in STEM

Creativity in SciComm is important and it doesn't get more creative than this

Go to the profile of Ben Libberton
Jan 08, 2019

Recently I posted about my experience at the ESOF conference this year in Toulouse. I specifically mentioned how despite the fact I consider myself a creative communicator, I was blown away by the ideas that I saw at the conference.

 Cut to the conference dinner. We’re outside on a beautiful summer evening eating canapés and I look up to see a drag queen wearing a graphene crown. This was Mario Peláez who was at the conference presenting his SciComm project Sassy Science.

 I was fascinated by the project because of how well it was executed, because it was something that I would never have thought of and, because it makes so much sense. If you want to engage with an audience, you have to speak their language. If you want to engage with LGBT minorities about STEM, why not use drag?

 The centre of Mario’s outreach is a YouTube channel where he posts videos in 1 of 3 main categories.

  • Why the hell am I doing this?
  • Queens who were robbed
  • Queens of today

Here Mario talks about the fundamental reasons behind the channel, from sexism to transphobia and why it’s important to talk about this in science.

In this section, Mario takes puts historic figures under the microscope who were not given the credit they were deserved due to unfair prejudice. 

Here Mario takes the opportunity to highlight current day heroes who are experience and overcoming different types of prejudice in science.

 I decided that I needed to talk with Mario about this and he was kind enough to do a Skype interview which was enlightening. It was inspiring to hear about his passion for activism for minorities (not just LGBT) but it was just as inspiring to hear about how his idea came about.

 Mario is funded by a European project called Enabling Excellence which stipulates that a certain portion of his efforts are devoted to measurable outreach. This gave him the freedom to devote time and energy to his project Sassy Science. Without this, Sassy Science would not exist, at least in its current form. He specifically mentioned Edward Goldwyn who helped the whole project team with scicomm and challenged them to think big and overcome their hurdles.

 I think this raises an important point about funding for good science communication. It takes time and it takes money. It’s ok for funding agencies to ask for scicomm but if we want to see real and productive efforts to disseminating science, we have to allocate funds to it. This is more important now than it has ever been and I’m grateful to have seen a project like Sassy Science be able to grow and flourish in a supportive environment.

Let’s have more. 

Here's Mario's most recent post

Go to the profile of Ben Libberton

Ben Libberton

Science Communicator, Freelance

I'm a freelance science communicator, formally a Postdoc in the biofilm field. I'm interested in how bacteria cause disease and look to technology to produce novel tools to study and ultimately prevent infection.

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