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Cross-post: ‘It’s a constant hum’: a planetary geologist calls out racism in academia

November 16, 2022

As part of its commitment to becoming an agent of change and helping to end discriminatory practices and systemic racism, Nature has published a special issue focused on science as “a shared experience” and published several editorials by scientists in various fields. One of them, by planetary geologist Dr. Martha Gilmore, is cross-posted here. Dr. Gilmore presented the 2022 Masursky Lecture at this year’s Lunar and Planetary Science Conference and is the recipient of the 2022 Claudia J. Alexander Prize, which recognizes outstanding contributions by a mid-career scientist.

By Kendra Pierre-Louis

In March, Martha Gilmore delivered an unusually moving keynote lecture at the annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Woodlands, Texas. Woven into a talk about the geology of Venus was a challenge for the mostly white, mostly male audience to think deeply about who is — or rather, who is not — doing research in this field.

According to data from the American Geosciences Institute, people from under-represented minority groups — including Black people — made up less than 6.7% of those awarded geoscience doctorates in 2019. And the proportion of those who continue in geoscience in some capacity shrank from 23% in 2010 to 19% in 2017.

“If I’m under-represented, then white folks are over-represented by definition,” said Gilmore, who is Black and a professor of earth and environmental sciences at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. “So what I’m going to ask you to do is think about, scientifically, why that’s an issue.”

Read more about Dr. Gilmore’s experiences here.

More on Dr. Gilmore’s research and achievements can be found at:
Masursky Lecture (2022)
Claudia J. Alexander Prize (2022)
Persistence Pays Off (2022)
51+ Women in Planetary Science (2021)
Bromery Award (2020)

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