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The History of Science

About 70% of researchers around the world are men. Majority of scientists in the US are white men. In the UK, only 12% of the STEM workforce is comprised of people from ethnic minorities. Those who are underrepresented in science face systemic barriers preventing them from entering; these barriers are more pronounced when these gender and race variables intersect. We are generally taught that modern science was born in Europe. But this isn't true - the birth of modern science was a global undertaking. The work of Copernicus wouldn't have been possible without Muslim scientists, Syrian mathematicians, and a Persian astronomer. We know this from his citations. Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution relied on data from a Chinese encyclopedia, and Newton cited experiments from Asia, Africa and the Americas when writing about his theory of gravity. These are a few examples that represent a broader theme - global information exchange was crucial to the birth of modern day science. Yet we are generally taught that a select few Europeans laid all of the groundwork for the rest of us. At a time when science remains rife with inequalities, we need to remember that those who have been systemically held back from modern science were crucial players in its development. Getting the history right will be constitute a big step forward in the push for equality in science.
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