Monday, August 18, 2008

Dear History Channel

Below is an e-mail I sent to The History Channel today. Believe you me, I'm aware that The History Channel is not the be-all, end-all of historical investigation. I wrote this precisely because the network is a shameless info-for-the-masses, MTV B.C., pop-culture fixture. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

So, am I an inconsolable feminazi, or is this a reasonable letter? I'd really like your opinion.

To Whom It May Concern:

Two nights ago I was watching an airing of
The Universe with my boyfriend. The narration of the program is supplemented with images of scientists and researchers who have contributed to the formation of the Big Bang theory. I couldn't help but comment to my boyfriend the noticeable lack of women. Not once in the two-hour program did we see a photograph of a woman or hear from a female specialist. Of course, I realize that the people involved in almost all scientific discoveries throughout almost all of human history have been male, so it is not the fault of the History Channel or the producers of the program, but rather the constraints of history itself that can partially explain the lack of women in this program.

There was, however, a missed opportunity to mention Vera Rubin, the woman who verified the existence of dark matter. I must also imagine that there are at least a few female physics professors who are just as qualified to discuss the formation of the universe as any of the men featured in the program. As I'm sure you're aware, there is an educational rift between men and women in the fields of math and science. I believe that small gestures (such as occasionally highlighting female specialists and scientists whenever it is feasible and appropriate) can improve this situation. I can only imagine the number of high school science teachers that are likely buying DVD's and using this program to accompany their lectures. Their classes, no doubt, are full of girls who may also notice the lack of women featured.

Finally, while watching
The Universe, I realized how rarely women appear in any of the History Channel's programing. I realize that I'm not the network's key demographic, but I would become a true History Channel fan if I were ever to see a "Women in Ancient Rome" or "Women and the Civil War" special.

Thanks for your time.