Shirtstorm / Shirtgate

Shirtstorm / Shirtgate

Updated Jun 09, 2021 at 06:23PM EDT by Rose Abrams.

Added Nov 15, 2014 at 11:52AM EST by Tomberry.

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#Shirtstorm and #Shirtgate are Twitter hashtags that arose in reaction to a shirt worn by British scientist Dr Matt Taylor during livestream coverage of the spacecraft Philae's comet landing during the Rosetta Mission in November 2014.


On November 12th 2014, European Space Agency spacecraft Philae achieved the first landing of a spacecraft on a comet in human history.[1] During Nature Newsteam’s livestream coverage of the landing, Rosetta scientist Matt Taylor was interviewed in a colorful bowling shirt featuring patterns of scantily clothed female cartoon characters (shown below).

Notable Developments

Twitter Reaction

That day, Brooklyn-based journalist Rose Eveleth tweeted a photograph of Taylor with a sarcastic remark citing his shirt as an example of the male-biased work culture within the scientific community (shown below). Also on November 12th, Taylor’s friend Elly Prizeman tweeted she made the shirt for Taylor’s birthday, accompanied by the hashtags “#shirtgate” and “#shirtstorm.”

* Elly PriZeMaN @ellypriZeMaN Follow I made a shirt for one of my close pals @mggtTaylor ik bir hiss b dlny. 131 d noi: 《踯3C3Gü this!! #shirtgate #shirtstorm #Rosetta #Shirt #sewing RETWEETSFAVORITES 1,281 1,171 圆 9:05 AM-13 Nov 2014

In the following 48 hours, the tweet gained over 1,000 retweets and 760 favorites, while the hashtags #shirtstorm and #shirtgate were mentioned more than 23,000 times and 19,000 times, respectively.

Rose Eveleth @roseveleth Follow No no women are toooootally welcome in our community, just ask the dude in this shirt.·.. わt3 esa AcquisltU 3

News Media Coverage

On November 13th, The Verge[14] published an article titled “I don’t care if you landed a spacecraft on a comet, your shirt is sexist and ostracizing,” which accussed Taylor of “the sort of casual misogyny that stops women from entering certain scientific fields.” The debacle was reported on several news websites such as CNN[4], The Telegraph,[5] Talking Points Memo,[6] Daily Mail[9] and The Guardian.[10]

Taylor's Apology

On November 14th, Taylor made a tearful apology for wearing the shirt during an ESA Google+ Hangout session (shown below).

“I made a big mistake and I offended many people and I am very sorry about this."

Online Debate

Many twitter users reused the hashtags to criticize the shallowness of the complaints. Prizeman, wrote a more thorough blog post[11] expressing her disappointment with those who reacted negatively toward Taylor.

Andrew Brooks @taxbod- 12h I'd wear what I damn well pleased. #ShirtGate わ £710 ★13 If I had a doctorate from Imperial, and had just landed a space thingy on a comet © Twitter

On November 17th, London mayor Boris Johnson made public statements defending Taylor, comparing his critics to "Islamist maniacs."[13]

Search Interest

External References

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Top Comments

Particle  Mare
Particle Mare

The title of the Verge article, and I quote exactly, is "I don't care if you landed a spacecraft on a comet, your shirt is sexist and ostracizing".

Oh, for goodness sake. You think you're helping aspiring female scientists? You're not. When you tell someone that something as banal and superficial as a few spots of skin on a shirt is more worthy of attention than a spacecraft landing on a comet for the first time in human history, then don't be surprised if you end up destroying their passion for science instead of kindling it.

I'm training to become a scientist so I can challenge myself mentally and contribute to humanity. I, for one, could not care less if you believe that the design on some guy's shirt is oppressing me – I'm here to look at supernovas, not to listen to your petty bullshit. Go peddle it elsewhere, please.


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