Message from the Associate Director:
I recently read an article in The New Yorker about deep-sea exploration that made my blood boil and my heart sink. In response, I wrote a letter to the editor, copied below and posted to Twitter. We can do better.
C-DEBI Associate Director
20 May 2020
As I was reading Ben Taub’s piece about a millionaire’s deep-sea journey, I felt a familiar swell of rage building as paragraph-after-paragraph, another man’s backstory was told, shrouded in white privilege and machismo (A Reporter At Large, May 18th). By the end, I realized that I felt as I sometimes do as the only female scientist in the room: left out and turned off.
Ocean science and engineering, like most STEM fields, suffers from a lack of diversity, and many of us are working hard to bring underrepresented voices to our labs, research cruises, and outreach efforts. This story sets us back. While some of the accomplishments of the Five Deeps team are certainly worth highlighting, we must find ways to tell such stories without celebrating the millionaire maverick explorer of European descent striving for records with little technical expertise and a general disregard for safety.
Many barriers exist to creating a culture of inclusion and equity in oceanography, but the portrayal of deep-sea exploration in this story reflect the fields’ origins, and it is no longer the reality of modern oceanographic research nor the future we strive for. Given the state of our world and the importance of science and engineering to our society, we must recruit, retain and mentor a diverse and talented community of future STEM participants that can work in our highly collaborative and team-oriented field. The ocean (our planet, our society) deserve better.
Julie Huber, PhD