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'Scientists Can be Sparkly Too': Woman Gave NASA Talk in Sequined Dress to Inspire Little Girls

'Scientists Can be Sparkly Too': Woman Gave NASA Talk in Sequined Dress to Inspire Little Girls

Before her talk at NASA, former futurist Rita J King received a request from little girls asking her to wear something 'sparkly'.

Clothes do not define a woman. And a scientist in New York, US, just proved that once again.

Rita J King, co-director of Manhattan-based consultancy firm Science House, took to the micro-blogging site Twitter recently to post a throwback photo of the time she wore a "sparky" outfit to a talk at NASA to prove to little girls that scientists can come in all kinds of clothes.

King was reminded of the photos while cleaning out her close when she found the old dress she had worn during a 2011 talk at NASA. King, who is a former futurist at NASA's think tank National Institute for Aerospace in Langley, said she had once received a letter from "little girls" who asked her to "wear something sparkly" for for the talk so that "they could believe that scientists could also be sparkly".

King told Buzzfeed News that the event coordinators had reached out to her with the seemingly bizarre request by some little girls who had requested she wear a sparkly dress. She also said that she found the "sparkliest" dress to let the girls know that they had been heard.

The gesture won many hearts on Twitter and provoked a conversation regarding gender stereotypes that exist when it comes to women in professional spaces.

This is not the first time that netizens have debated over what women should or shouldn't wear to succeed or appear successful in so-called "male dominated" professions like science, engineering, finance or medicine. As per a study conducted by researchers at Cambridge and Essex Universities in Britain, less attractive women scientists are more like to be taken seriously with regard to their work, even though respondents were more inclined to show interest in conventionally attractive scientists.

Such stereotypes undermine the work done by women by equating its worth with they way they look or dress. Sometimes, they even lead to toxic workplace practices that require women to behave in certain ways by virtue of their gender, thus diminishing their status as an equal to male colleagues who may not be required to adhere to the same standards.

Take the case of Ernst & Young, for instance, who in 2018 conducted a workshop with a number of women employees and asked them to dress in certain ways in order to succeed in the firm.

Many women professionals have taken to social media in the past with hashtags like #ILookLikeAScientist and #ILookLikeAnEngineer to post photos of themselves in everyday clothes or attires termed "feminine" to prove a point.