Matt Taylor has apologized for the distracting and disrespectful shirt he wore while acting as a spokesperson for the ESA.
It’s a good first step. But there’s more that needs to be done, since Matt Taylor is only a small part of the problem.
There’s clearly a problem at ESA that allowed this to happen — somebody should have said, “Whoa, Matt — you’re not going in front of the cameras looking like that.” The administration needs to speak up, too, and confess their failure.
There needs to be more commitment to equality and diversity. It’s all well and good to say you’re sorry after you screw up, but it’s more important to have an active program of support for women and minorities in science…and by reputation, engineering-heavy enterprises are particularly in need of a culture shift.
And finally, there’s a problem that can’t be pinned on Taylor or his bosses: our internet assholes. The reaction was far worse than the shirt, with, for example, @roseveleth getting goddamned death threats for a sarcastic remark. We had our own share here of ponderous, tedious, clueless guys expressing their inability to understand how having soft porn pictures all over your mission leader’s clothing might possibly create a chilly work climate for the women on the team.
That last one’s the big one. For a start, how about if all the internet trolls who sneered at people who thought that shirt was a terrible idea, or sent rape and death threats, or opined droningly that there was nothing wrong with wearing a sexist shirt, now get on their preferred medium and apologize. Taylor could do it. You can too.