Future Tense is the citizen’s guide to the future. A partnership among Arizona State University, Slate and the New America Foundation, Future Tense explores emerging technologies and their transformative effects on society and public policy.
As a woman with a degree in astrophysics, I can count on two hands the number of actual research-related questions asked of me at physics conferences, while I’ve lost track of the number of times someone wanted to know, “Where did you get those shoes?” This could, of course, mean that my shoes were beacons of color in the sea of brown and black loafers—but I think it actually reflects a much broader, much deeper truth about our cultural conception of who a scientist is and what he looks like. That’s right, what he looks like. To an overwhelming degree, when we think of a scientist, we picture a middle-aged white man with glasses and a lab coat.