If you read Amber Roberts' Twitter bio, it's clear she has an impressive resume: AI program director, astrophysicist, science communicator, machine learning engineer, and (importantly) chocolate connoisseur. Well, recently she tweeted and it went viral – but, sadly, for all the wrong reasons.
On Thursday, she took to social media to tell her followers of an incident she experienced at an airport involving a random guy asking her why she needs two laptops.
Apparently, people got so worked up about it all, it spawned not one but two (since trending) threads on the Reddit group r/iamverysmart where people questioned her need for separate laptops while accusing her of using the incident to humblebrag and claim non-existant misogyny. So if the patronizing tone of the man at the airport wasn't enough to highlight the many (if often small-scale) acts of discrimination women in STEM face on a regular basis, some of the comments on the thread most certainly are.
Many (quite fairly) suggested the man was simply curious about her need for two laptops and would have asked her why regardless of whether she was male or female. But, as a Twitter user pointed out, something as simple as the tone of the question can suggest a hidden (and sometimes not-so-hidden) prejudice.
And it might be worth mentioning, while many assumed Roberts was being oversensitive, many also assumed the "random guy" was, in fact, a security official. He was not.
Many responses were more positive, praising Roberts or offering up their own similar experiences – and several men jumped in to say that even though they often carry around several phones, tablets, and laptops for work purposes, they themselves had never been asked about it.