Equality in Science

Award-winning science journalist Angela Saini presented the keynote at the SPIE Photonics West 2020 Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion presentation and reception
04 February 2020
Daneet Steffens
Angela Saini
Angela Saini, author of Inferior and Superior, gave the keynote address at the 2020 Photonics West Equity, Diversity & Inclusion reception

Award-winning science journalist Angela Saini, the critically acclaimed author of Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong and Superior: The Return of Race Science, presented the keynote at the SPIE Photonics West 2020 Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion presentation and reception. At this packed and lively event, the first 50 attendees received a free, signed copy of Superior.

Drawing from both of her recent books, Saini spoke about gender, race, and power in science, addressing issues of structural patriarchy, injustice, bias, sexism, and racism that continue to inaccurately and misleadingly shape some of today's science. "Journalists play an interesting role in society because we are a kind of bridge," she noted. "We're not really within the sciences, we're not fully outside the sciences. We're a critical voice, as well as working with scientists to understand their work and disseminate their work to other people. My work in particular is to understand where science goes wrong and where mistakes are made and where bias creeps in. My journalism is about speaking truth to power. For us science journalists, the power that we're speaking to is the scientific establishment, it's actually you. The industry and establishment of science holds, even though it may not always feel like it, enormous power in shaping our lives and how we understand ourselves."

The Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) presentation and reception is part of an expansive program which, at SPIE Photonics West alone, includes an executive women's meetup,; an LGBTQ+ social, an interactive Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon, and a variety of lunchtime discussion sessions: Equity in Industry; Managing Unconscious Bias; Creative, Inclusive Cultures; Growth Mindset Leadership; and Diversity in the Workplace.

"SPIE believes that bringing people together from different backgrounds and different experiences and perspectives will support innovation through a diversity of ideas and solve challenges faced by our world," SPIE Career & Diversity Specialist Meg All noted earlier this week at a previous EDI event. "We also believe that it's the duty of professional societies like SPIE to help spread ideas and resources, and to help attendees such as yourselves shift the culture when you return to you own workplaces. Last year we held 16 equity, diversity, and inclusion events at eight different meetings, and I think we'll probably eclipse that number this month. We're really ramping up our support of this program; it's wonderful seeing SPIE growing in this way."

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