In the highly reactive world of the Internet, it's easy for outrage to overtake education. But every once in a while, something sparks a social movement that makes you feel like you're really learning something. And if you start looking through the hashtag #girlswithtoys, it's impossible not to come away inspired.
This past weekend, scientist Kate Clancy started the hashtag in response to an interview she heard on NPR, she writes in Slate. During the interview, astrophysicist Shrinivas Kulkarni said, "Many scientists are I think, secretly, are what I call 'boys with toys.'"
"Every time we impose gender on an action or a role — and every time we reinforce that gendering — we are placing limits on people," writes Clancy, who has a seven-year-old daughter. "'Boys with toys' is a very specific stereotype of scientists. It brings to mind not only the phrase “boys will be boys,” one that tends to exempt boys and men from paying attention to culturally appropriate behavior, but also the idea that scientists perform science only for their own enjoyment."
Over the past three days, more than 17,000 tweets have been posted with #girlswithtoys, depicting women doing everything from building a dark matter detector to driving a Mars rover. But some of the best pictures came from the past, like this one:
Not only is the movement empowering for women, it also lets us mere mortals get a chance to see behind the scenes at what scientists — in a huge variety of disciplines — are working on around the globe.
Take a look at this collection of tweets by Canadians we've gathered from the #girlswithtoys hashtag, and be prepared to be pretty amazed:
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