A lineup of all-star, all-women keynote speakers kicked off Saturday’s March For Science in Foley Square, located in downtown New York City.
Dr. BethAnn McLaughlin, an MIT Disobedience Prize Winner and founder of #MeTooSTEM, led the charge. She was joined by marine biologist Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, 13-year-old climate activist Alexandria Villaseñor, and grassroots organizer Aracely Jimenez-Hudis.
“I have a lot of qualms about marching for science bc science has left so many behind...so I’m not marching for science — I’m marching for scientists,” McLaughlin tweeted during the march. “For scientists everywhere so that they can wake up and go to work and be safe!!!”
Johnson, also a marine policy expert as well as founder and CEO of the conservation consulting firm Ocean Collectiv, reminded the New York City crowd about the need for diversity in the industry.
“To be honest, I’m pretty sick of people being so damn surprised that someone who looks like me is a Ph.D scientist,” Johnson said, pointing out the glaring lack of women, especially women of color, in her field. Her anecdotal experiences are backed up by hard data: according to a 2018 UNESCO Institute for Statistics report, less than 30% of scientists and researchers worldwide are women.
Johnson called on marchers to change that statistic. “This is what a scientist looks like,” she said to loud applause.
“If the adults in power were doing their jobs, we wouldn’t be in a climate emergency, and young people like me wouldn’t have to grow up worrying about the planet and our future,” she said.
Listening to the amazing youth activist @AlexandriaV2005 speak at the #MarchForScience NYC. Wish I had been this together at 13! Activists in @usclimatestrike @ThisIsZeroHour @GretaThunberg are showing adults how it’s done. pic.twitter.com/Ycdt5KUufE— Emma C. Hutchinson (@emmachutchinson) May 4, 2019
22-year-old Jimenez-Hudis, who works with the grassroots organization Sunrise Movement, echoed Villaseñor’s sentiments and called for policy changes with an emphasis on the future: “We are going to win when millions of us — young people, students, scientists, farmers, indigenous communities, working-class folks, black and brown communities like mine — are taking action every single day until we win a Green New Deal,” she said. “We have to get involved, and we have to stop thinking that someone else is going to build a movement for us.”
The global day of action called for “the open access of scientific information to the general public, the use of science for the common good and in the preservation of an informed democracy, [and] the protection of human and environmental rights,” according to the March For Science’s official website.