On November 13, I tweeted this image:
You might recognize this as Dr. Matt Taylor, the Project Scientist on the Rosetta mission to put the Philae lander on a comet. This is an astounding scientific achievement! But the celebration of this achievement was diminished by Dr. Taylor's unfortunate choice of wardrobe, which featured illustrations of scantily clad women holding weapons. For many, this was a tough reminder that STEM fields have historically not been welcoming environments for women who want to be judged solely on their abilities.
Through my image, I wanted to make the point that you can celebrate women you admire through your apparel--but in the context of a great scientific achievement, how about celebrating women who have made great achievements of their own?
My image started out as simple commentary, but suddenly it gained international attention. It was retweeted thousands and thousands of times, and Twitter Analytics estimates it has been seen almost 300,000 times on Twitter alone.
The idea clearly struck a chord--but then people began asking for this "other" shirt to become a reality.
Making "That Other Shirt" a Reality
People were really excited at the prospect of buying what would come to be known as #ThatOtherShirt, and it got ME excited! I started looking into what it would take to make it really happen. Who could print the shirt? Who should be on it? How would we pay for it? The more research I did, the more I was sure we could make this happen.
More than making it happen, I wanted to make it count. This is more than a shirt; it's a message. It's a cause. I decided very early that this would be a completely non-profit endeavor to make something positive come out of a contentious situation.
With so many people jumping in, I wanted to get everyone involved throughout development. I created a blog to post updates and gather feedback, and through which I asked people to send me the names of notable women in STEM who should be included on the shirt. I ended up with a long list of well over 100 women. I narrowed this list down to a short list of about 50 women, based on factors such as field, nationality, race, era, LGBT, disability, and the availability of a usable photograph. Currently, the short list includes the following women (subject to change):
Ada Lovelace – Computer Science; Alice Ball – Chemistry; Annie Jump Cannon – Astronomy; Barbara McClintock – Genetics; Caroline Herschel – Astronomy; Chiaki Mukai – Aeronautics; Chien-Shiung Wu – Physics; Dorothy Hodgkin – Biochemistry; Elizebeth Friedman – Cryptography; Ellen Ochoa – Aeronautics; Émilie du Châtelet – Math, Physics; Emmy Noether – Math, Physics; Gertrude B. Elion – Biochemistry; Grace Hopper – Computer Science; Hedy Lamarr – Engineering; Helen Quinn – Particle Physics; Henrietta Swan Leavitt – Astronomy; Hypatia of Alexandria – Astronomy; Jane Goodall – Primatology; Joan Roughgarden – Evolutionary Biology; Jocelyn Bell Burnell – Astrophysics; Kalpana Chawla – Aeronautics; Katharine Hayhoe – Climate Science; Katherine Lathrop – Biochemistry, Radiology; Lise Meitner – Nuclear Physicist; Liu Yang – Aeronautics; Lynn Conway – Computer Science, Electrical Engineering; Mae Jemison – Aeronautics; Margaret Lowman – Ecology; Maria Goeppert-Mayer – Physics; Marie Maynard Daly – Biochemistry; Marie Skłodowska-Curie – Chemistry, Physics; Mary Anning – Paleontology; Mary Somerville – Scientific Writing; Maryam Mirzakhani – Mathematics; Melba Roy Mouton – Computer Science; Millie Dresselhaus – Physics, Electrical Engineering; Rachel Carson – Marine Biology; Rita Levi-Montalcini – Neurobiology; Roger Arliner Young – Zoology; Rosalind Franklin – Molecular Biology; Ruby Payne-Scott – Radiophysics; Sally Ride – Aeronautics; Shirley Ann Jackson – Physics; Sofia Kovalevskaya – Mathematics; Sophie Wilson – Computer Science; Katherine Johnson – Physics, Mathematics; Stephanie Kwolek – Chemistry; Temple Grandin – Animal Science; Tilly Edinger – Paleontology; Valentina Tereshkova – Aeronautics; a memorial for the 14 women killed in the École Polytechnique massacre of 1989
With help from some enthusiastic volunteers, as well as a good deal of legwork on my own, I sourced Creative Commons or Public Domain images for as many women as I could find. We got in touch with organizations such as the American Institute of Physics and the Smithsonian to provide hard-to-find images. I also reached out to several women directly asking if they'd donate their portraits. One gentleman even had his uncle scan an old photograph of his grandmother, Katherine Lathrop, who helped develop an isotope widely used to locate and diagnose cancers.
Using photographs from women on the short list, I created the draft design that you see in these mockups.
Since the inspiration for #ThatOtherShirt was a bowling/Hawaiian-style shirt, I sourced a vendor who could create custom shirts in a similar style. To offer a more affordable option, I also sourced a printer who could do a similar all-over design on a t-shirt.
You'll see "blank faces" on these mockups, because one of the really cool rewards we're offering at the $500 donation level is that you can choose to add a notable woman in STEM who didn't make it onto the short list. The requirements for the person you choose are as follows:
- She must be a "notable" woman in STEM. Check out these notability guidelines as a starting point.
- A usable photograph must be provided. "Usable" means it must be high resolution (preferably at least 900 pixels on its short edge), and must be in the Public Domain or have a Creative Commons license or permission from the copyright holder. The photo itself must not violate any privacy rights. This means that typically the photo must have been taken in a "public place," or have an associated model release. (If the woman is living, we will generally try to contact them for explicit permission, as well.)
PLEASE email me (firstname.lastname@example.org, or use the Contact Me button above) before you pledge at this reward level to ensure your nomination is eligible.
What's Left to Do
I am currently finalizing the design, which includes triple-checking that it's okay to use the photos we sourced, closing gaps in the design, and making sure everything lines up exactly for a seamless repeating pattern. I'm in constant touch with the manufacturing companies to be sure they can faithfully reproduce the design. As soon as funding closes, I'll add the additional women from the $500 reward level to the design.
I'll also design a "map" to be included with every reward tier. This map will help you identify all the women in the design and include a brief note about their contribution to STEM.
After that, it's all up to the printers! Both shirt types are expected to ship in March.
We kept our budget as simple and straightforward as possible. Functionally, this Kickstarter is operating as a pre-sale for the shirts. The t-shirt manufacturer and the Hawaiian-style shirt manufacturer both have order minimums. We set up the budget to meet these minimums and to cover shipping and handling from the manufacturers. Ancillary costs include the posters for the lowest reward tier, Amazon and Kickstarter fees, and licensing fees for just a few important photographs that were not available for free.
Meeting our funding goal will mean we can afford to make the minimum orders at both manufacturers, and send out all rewards.
I want to note that I understand $75 is a steep price for a shirt. We did everything possible to keep this price as low as possible for both shirts. The bottom line is that custom Hawaiian-style shirts with photographic prints are hard to come by and expensive. This price point is as close to cost as we could get without losing money.
As stated earlier, this is a non-profit endeavor. The point is education, awareness, and inspiration for all people who want to see advancement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics through closing the gender gap. Any excess funds will be re-invested with this goal in mind, including potentially additional runs of the original shirt, or specialty editions, such as an all-space edition shirt, or scrub tops. I am working with several non-profit groups, including the National Girls Collaborative Project, to make this happen.
Details About the Shirts
**You will receive a survey at the END of the campaign asking for your size and shipping information. Please watch your email starting January 2.**
At the $35 level, you get That Other T-Shirt! The t-shirt is fully printed all over with the repeating grayscale design of great women in STEM, via a dye sublimation process. We are offering the Basic ("men's" style), the Slim Fit ("women's" style), and Youth Basic.
The Vapor Apparel Basic Tee is a class cut t-shirt made specifically for all-over printing. Its 5.9 oz. 100% spun polyester construction has a look and feel better than cotton, with the added benefit of moisture wickability.
The Vapor Apparel Slim Fit Tee is a fashion-cut, fitted tee made specifically for all-over printing. Its 6.5 oz. fabric is made of 93% polyester/7% spandex and features cap sleeves, contour fit, and a fashionable length. Infused with the PURE-tech moisture wicking technology, this garment is stain, odor, and microbial resistant.
Adult and Youth sizes S - XL are available (click for detailed measurements). I am currently researching to see if we can offer 2X and larger, and I'll put an update on here if we can!
The fabric of both shirts ensures the design will print with gorgeous detail and stay brilliant through many washings. The design is guaranteed never to crack, peel, or flake. (Due to the process of sublimation printing, it is normal for there to be minor imperfections such as smudges and creasing near the seams and edges of the shirt.)
At the $75 level, you get That Other Hawaiian-Style Shirt! The Hawaiian-style shirt is digitally printed all over with the repeating grayscale design of great women in STEM. This shirt is 100% "peach skin" polyester, which looks and feels like silk. It wears cool, can be washed at home, and doesn't require ironing. There is only one style available of this shirt.
Adult sizes are available S - XXXL in either men's or women's cut (matches typical US sizing for "Hawaiian shirts"). If you desire a youth size, please email me (email@example.com, or use the Contact Me button above). We need a minimum of 25 orders to get youth size Hawaiian-style shirts, and I'll add a reward tier if there is sufficient, serious interest!
Why We're Doing This
The short answer is "Because you asked for it." But why did people ask for it? That's a much more complex issue. The statistics of women in STEM speak for themselves. While women make up 47% of the U.S. workforce, they make up less than 30% of the STEM workforce. More alarmingly, women who enter STEM fields are leaving at a rate of 75% over 10 years.
Citing these statistics, some people make the wild claims that women just aren't "made" for STEM. But data show that women have comparable intelligence and acumen for STEM fields. History shows they've made amazing contributions. Sometimes they've been credited for their contributions; sometimes they haven't. My hope is that, through something as simple as this shirt, we can draw attention to the gender gap in STEM and continue to have conversations about it, while simultaneously celebrating STEM's greatest women AND inspiring the next generation of incredible STEM workers--female and male alike.
Besides all this, who wouldn't want a beautiful, badass, conversation-starting shirt like this in their wardrobe?
I literally could not have done this alone. The warmest of thank you's to all of you who reached out via Twitter, the blog, and email to send in your recommendations, help me source photos, and offer your feedback and support all along the way. There is a fascinating community of science-minded folks on Twitter and I'm so glad to have met you.
Thank you so much to those who have spread the word. Whether you have 30 followers or 3,000, every RT, blog post, and news article helped this project grow from an idea to a reality. Thank you for using your voice to magnify mine.
Thank you to Jes, Josh, and Spence from Liquid Squid Productions, who offered their time and talent to put together the video you see above. This video was shot at Hartlove-Goodyear Studio in Baltimore, MD.
And finally, thank you to my best friend and fiance, Gabriel Kabik, who has been an invaluable partner, editor, and sounding board through this entire process.
Risks and challenges
We are fully funded and all expenses will be covered by donations from backers!
One risk at this point would be delays from the printer. I don't anticipate this, as we've been working closely all along the way.
A major risk we've identified is any delay from backers in submitting their surveys. We cannot place the full order until we get size information from EVERYONE. Please watch your email carefully starting on Jan. 2, and reply to the backer survey as fast as possible.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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