“The people I work with don’t judge me by my looks”

Business Insider comments on Matt Taylor aka Mr Lookit teh Haff-Nekkid Laydeez On My Shirt guy.

All of humanity made history today by landing a spacecraft on a comet.

Unfortunately, many of the women following that development — and a few men, too — were made to feel pretty unwelcome in the space exploration sphere when one of the people leading the mission decided to show up to talk about it wearing a shirt covered in dozens of half-naked women.

Really, what kind of clueless jackass does that? I’ve seen it suggested that Taylor wanted to emulate the coolness of Bobek Firdowski’s mohawk.

If so – dear god how clueless. Spot the difference – one is an amusing fanciful haircut that doesn’t degrade anyone, and the other is a shirt covered with women-as-consumer-items. How much though does it require to grasp that the second is neither cool nor a good thing to do?

Contrast the feeling you get seeing this guy in a shirt that objectifies women to this image from the Mars mission control room in India when that country launched its first orbiter to the Red Planet earlier this year.

View image on Twitter

Wow, I hadn’t seen that before. Engineers in saris!

Interestingly, Taylor recently participated in a live online chat with the Wall Street Journal in which he was asked how he gained acceptance in such a respected field while sporting sleeve-length tattoos.

He responded, “The people I work with don’t judge me by my looks but only by the work I have done and can do. Simple.”

If only women could hope to someday be judged that way too.

Seriously. Jesus, Matt Taylor, if it works for you, how much effort does it take to realize it works for people who aren’t you as well?

Business Insider asked the European Space Agency for a comment, and will report back if and when it gets one.


  1. Al Dente says

    The thing that has me confused is that apparently nobody at ESA said: “Hey Dr. Dudebro, that might not be the most appropriate shirt to wear on world-wide TV.”

  2. salim says

    The scene from ISRO control room is definitely a big contrast from ESA or NASA control rooms. Almost half of the engineers that led the ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) mission to Mars (and other missions) are women and they are not marginalized when it comes to celebrating successes. Of course, this is quite a paradox considering the status of women in Indian society as a whole is deplorable. Female participation in STEM fields in India is much higher compared to that of US. At least half of the students in engineering colleges are women.

  3. carbonfox says

    They’ll be hiring Playboy bunnies next. I swear we’re going backward. – Ophelia, @3

    Hey, why are you trying to keep women out of science? One Bunny per REAL (male) scientist at any and all scientific events, and we’ve achieved a perfect 1-1 ratio! It’s brilliant!

  4. sonofrojblake says

    I do think Dr. Taylor’s sartorial choice teaches an important lesson about the workplace, a lesson that should be equally relevant to men and women thinking of going into STEM fields: even in the most supposedly rational workplaces, even in workplaces where everyone is, theoretically, on the same side and working towards the same goal, in ALL workplaces, everywhere in the world – there are wankers.

    And quite often it’s those very same wankers who get to be the one who goes on telly.

  5. smhll says

    re: “don’t judge me by my looks”

    It must be nice not to receive that judgment. Women aren’t usually allowed the freedom to wear what they want and be free of judgment. In fact, women get pre-judged a lot. (Science backs this up!)

    All the figures of women on his shirt seem to have been selected for their looks… but it’s okay for him to be visually judging and sorting like that because they aren’t people, they’re decor?

  6. Beth says

    @Al #2,

    I don’t think we know whether or not anyone at ESA suggested to Matt Taylor that his shirt choice was inappropriate. Could be someone did, but lacked the authority to make him change. Unless they have a written policy that forbids such attire, I’m not sure that anyone, even his supervisors, would have the authority to tell him to change.

  7. moarscienceplz says

    Beth #9

    I don’t think we know whether or not anyone at ESA suggested to Matt Taylor that his shirt choice was inappropriate. Could be someone did, but lacked the authority to make him change.

    If the ESA doesn’t have a PR department, then they are fools. NASA has been very focused on their public image pretty much from the very beginning of the space program. Of course, back in the ’60s, NASA’s PR guys were just as misogynistic as everybody else, but if the ESA has PR people (and if they don’t, then who arranged for all the publicity?) and they chose to not go all the way to the head of the agency and make an issue out of that shirt in the year 2014, then they should be fired.

  8. says

    moarscienceplz @10,
    Excellent point, there is no way the engineers and scientists handle the PR themselves, so they must have a PR group of some kind.

    This kind of egregious failure to act/report reminds us of the Challenger disaster in 1986. In that incident, more than one engineer tried to raise the red flag about the risk of launching but their concerns were not taken seriously and someone failed to act. In that case, the results were acute and very tragic.

    In the case of Taylor’s shirt, the results are equally tragic, but much more chronic than acute. This kind of casual sexism and misogyny has ripple effects that we can’t even begin to fathom that can last generations. We would love to see some kind of investigation or commission to figure out what went wrong that would allow this shirt on air, and to make recommendations so they can prevent this type of thing in the future. That would at least signal that the ESA is taking this as seriously as they should.

  9. Maureen Brian says

    The Daily Mail (no link, of course!) has an article quoting Taylor’s sister which says that he is fairly useless at making minor decisions and performing simple tasks.

    This may well be so but that just makes his colleagues even more incompetent than I previously thought. If the man has always been like this then part of team work would surely be to ensure that his managers allow for this aspect of him and in a totally supportive way double check before he does something which will look mind-bogglingly stupid to an audience of millions.

    That might suggest that they need more women in the workplace. Part of our basic training from infancy is in preventing just this type of faux pas.

  10. sonofrojblake says

    In the case of Taylor’s shirt, the results are equally tragic

    @We Are Plethora, 11:
    Francis R. Scobee. Michael J. Smith. Ronald McNair. Ellison Onizuka. Judith Resnik. Greg Jarvis. Christa McAuliffe.

    Would you be prepared to read out post 11 to the families of those people? “Equally tragic”??? You have some seriously fucked up priorities.

    “Equally tragic”? Would you be prepared to read that statement out loud to the families

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