When The Internet Couldn’t Stand The Sudden Fame Of Katie Bouman

Katie Bouman, the Scientist Behind the First-Ever Black Hole Image, Fame Katie Bouman

On 10th April 2019 astronomers released the first ever image of a black hole. And interestingly, a 29-year-old female US Computer Scientist Dr Katie Bouman has been credited for it. But many netizens (read men) weren’t happy with the fact that a female astronomer could achieve what male astronomers have tried from so long time.

The Straits Times reported, “On Reddit and Twitter, memes quickly went viral contrasting Dr Bouman with Mr Chael, who – per the viral images – was actually responsible for 850,000 of the 900,000 lines of code that were written in the historic black-hole image algorithm!”

Gene Park, from The Washington Post‘s audience development and social media team, also took to Twitter to reveal this:

The situation reflects the vitriol women face socially. Would something like this have happened if the genders were reversed?

When Dr Andrew Chael Took Out To Twitter To Reveal The Truth

Since the posts defaming Dr Bouman went viral overnight, Dr Andrew Chael himself tweeted the reality.

“While I appreciate the congratulations on a result that I worked hard on for years, if you are congratulating me because you have a sexist vendetta against Katie, please go away and reconsider your priorities in life,” he tweeted.

Dr Chael told the world that while he wrote some of the code for three different types of imaging, Dr Bouman was there to rigorously test the codes submitted. The world needs more men like him who feel no shame in recognising great work done by a woman.

Dr Margaret Hamilton: Coder Of Apollo 11 Guidance Software

This is not the first time that a female scientist’s contributions was looked upon with scepticism. In 2016, when Dr Margaret Hamilton was awarded the Presidential Medal Of Freedom, a person took to Twitter asking, “Is that the software Neil Armstrong deactivated for the first Moon landing? Just Asking.”

After strong criticism from the people, he deactivated his account and hence the tweet isn’t visible today! You can find it here.

Interestingly, NASA reverted to the man and validated that the first moon landing would not have been possible without Dr Hamilton’s codes. Actually, Dr Hamilton wrote the code that allowed the system to prioritise certain commands when it became overloaded.

In a speech by the then President of USA, Barack Obama, said, “Before landing on the Moon, the alarms in Apollo 11 triggered Red and Yellow. Our astronauts didn’t have much time but thankfully they had Dr Margaret Hamilton, a young MIT Scientist.” You can listen to the speech here.

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Anushika Srivastava is an Intern with SheThePeople.Tv