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Marking Women’s History Month, the Woods Hole Public Library, in conjunction with the Woods Hole Diversity Initiative Advisory Committee of all six Woods Hole scientific institutions, is presenting the film Picture a Scientist, directed by Ian Cheney and Sharon Shattuck. The film features three brilliant and successful women scientists: Dr. Nancy Hopkins, a biologist at MIT,  Dr. Jane Willenbring, a geologist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and Dr. Raychelle Burks, a chemist at American University. Through the film we hear how they have faced discrimination throughout their careers and how they have chosen to cope with the situation. The current pandemic is a call to action for scientists to work together globally, with a multitude of different perspectives, to defeat COVID-19. For too long, women and other minorities in science have been left out or driven out, stymied by a system of harassment, discrimination, and general bias. “Any impediment to advancing minorities in science is an impediment to science itself,” says Sharon Shattuck.

A National Academies of Science report describes sexual harassment as an iceberg, with the vast majority consisting of subtle slights and microaggressions. In this documentary we can see the effect of this years-long practice. Dr. Hopkins chose to wait till she had tenure before trying to change the system from within academia. Dr. Willenbring has attempted to right the wrongs of gender bias and sexual harassment throughout her career even when she was a lowly grad student working with an abusive mentor. However, she often had to make difficult choices about when and how she could call out the transgressor. Dr. Burks has had to face not only gender bias but also racial discrimination. All have had successful careers, but with painful and  unnecessary adversity all along the way.

“Picture a Scientist” is an invitation not just to examine our own biases (in our organizations, in the systems that govern our lives, in ourselves), but to be vigilant in recognizing and dismantling those biases. The film expands on steps to take for the future, and recommendations for ways we can begin the work together to enact meaningful change.

The film will be available to stream from the comfort of your own home between noon on Friday, March 19, and noon on Monday, March 22. Interested viewers must register by emailing whpl_mail@clamsnet.org or calling 508-548-8961 before the screening date in order to receive the link to watch. A followup live panel discussion entitled “When You Picture a Scientist, Who Do You See?” will also be held on Wednesday, March 24. Drs. Willenberg and Burks and a larger group of scientists invite all to join them for a candid conversation with world-renowned scientists on advancing diversity and inclusion in STEM. 

To read more about the film Picture a Scientist, please visit their website here

To learn more about the panel discussion on March 24, please click here