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Science  13 Apr 2018:
Vol. 360, Issue 6385, pp. 163
DOI: 10.1126/science.aat7933

The Working Life “Instagram won't solve inequality” (M. Wright, 16 March, p. 1294) sparked a wide-ranging discussion about the value and purpose of social media in science. Excerpts from readers' reactions to the article are below. Read the full eletters and add your own at http://science.sciencemag.org/content/359/6381/1294/tab-e-letters.

A selection of your thoughts:

Not every tweet, post, or YouTube video that happens to feature a woman science communicator is uploaded with the express intent of challenging the status quo or systemic and institutionalized bias…. To assume this…fails to understand the many reasons why women choose to communicate science to the public. There are indeed activists who constantly challenge the institutionalized bias favoring men, people who sporadically participate in collective events such as Women in Science day, and also science communicators who just happen to be women. We should applaud all of their efforts….

Victoria J. Forster

…Like the author, I strongly believe that women and other underrepresented minorities in science should feel no obligation to take on additional emotional labor for the sake of educating others. I also agree that systemic issues of inequality will likely require systemic solutions to enact lasting change.… It is evident that the author views #scicomm on Instagram as a chore, but for some of us it is a labor of love. If building model satellites out of cake…or posing my dog in front of Apollo 14 moon trees… weren't incredibly fun, I wouldn't be doing it.… Instagram has significant and largely untapped potential as a vehicle for science communication. The visual nature of the platform, in conjunction with the large and diverse userbase,…provides tremendous opportunity to reach nontraditional audiences. I agree with the author that science communication must be performed in a manner authentic to each individual, but my hope is that we can continue to encourage each other to promote science in a variety of ways. Right now, we need #scicomm more than ever.

Beth R. Gordon

…As an early-career researcher, the first in my family to go to university, social media has provided me with both community and opportunities that would have been unimaginable without it. Having a window into the lives other academics and scientists from a range of backgrounds has helped me feel I belong and reassured me that there is a place in the academy for people like me…. At the same time, I was recently invited to publish a comment piece… after an editor noticed my tweets. I have also found coauthors on Twitter and used it to keep up with recent publications and research…. I have nonetheless begun to limit time spent on social media, realizing that it…distracts me from important work. But the benefits far outweigh the limitations….

Glen Wright

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