Thousands of female scientists around the world have signed an open letter pledging their dedication to equality, the environment, and science following Donald Trump’s election victory. At the time of writing, 11300 women from 91 different countries had added their names to the letter that committed them to support under-represented groups in the sciences, engage with the wider public and mentor the next generation of scientists, amongst other things.
The letter began with a small group of female scientists worried about the misogyny, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, ableism and anti-science rhetoric seen during the election campaign, and who wanted to work together to combat this. After the letter’s publication online with 500 signatories, it took off, with women from diverse backgrounds and from all fields of science joining.
Science in general has been heavily under attack in both the US and in Britain, with the rejection of expert opinion, and the legitimisation of climate change denial. President-elect Trump has already caused dismay with his decision to dramatically cut NASA’s climate change budget, and incredible claim that climate change itself is a “Chinese hoax”. A number of scientific organisations have come out in opposition to the anti-science sentiment within Trump’s administration – another letter addressed to Trump calling on him to fund and support science throughout his Presidency has 2300 signatories, including 22 Nobel Prize recipients.
The remarkable thing about this action is that it is already having real world effects. The woman who started the drafting of the letter claims some of the scientists were actually inspired to run for office from the conversations they held as a group, and others have reaffirmed their commitment to mentoring and fostering aspirations in children, especially girls. The scientists involved have not only pledged to protect science and support other women, but also all minority groups. In this time of division and hate, collective action is the way forward.