One of the godfathers of vlogging, Hank Green, has successfully made a name for himself on TikTok, much like he did years before with his brother John on YouTube with Vlog Brothers. While he still appears regularly in educational YouTube videos today on Crash Course and Sci Show, Hank also explains certain topics, scientific or otherwise in short-form videos on TikTok.
Educational content is very much Hank’s game and has been for years, but both he and other creators have addressed a troubling rising trend of people needlessly tagging him in videos of other educators and experts—often women.
One example of many is a recent video about high-pressure physics from ash_phd. As her name would suggest, Ash has a PhD in physics, with a focus on the very topic she was discussing. However, that didn’t stop people on her video tagging Hank to fact-check her content, as happens often with other women in STEM.
“If you have a question, ask the creator,” said Ash in a video calling for people to stop. “Don’t tag Hank Green saying you need him to explain it because you don’t.”
Hank himself has also asked people to stop tagging him in other people’s content.
“Before you [tag me asking if something is real], can you check if that person actually knows more about that topic than I do, which is not unlikely considering we all have our expertise and mine are limited?” Hank explained in a video. “I’m happy to have established myself as having some amount of credibility in the world of talking about and communicating the realities of our very weird and lovely and bizarre universe, but I’m certainly not the only person who does that.”
So why is this a problem?
Well, tagging Hank Green in a person’s content implies that he knows more about that topic. Hank is undoubtedly a smart man, but he doesn’t have expert knowledge on every subject. It’s insulting to women in STEM who have the credentials and expertise to make the video in the first place to tag a man, often with less experience in that field, to explain the concept again.
What’s more, it’s representative of a tendency to disregard someone’s credibility based on their appearance or people’s judgment of them. While Hank has credibility, other women in STEM, like Ash in the comments of her video, get told they need to look more like a scientist to be believed.
“You DO NOT look like someone who’s got a PhD in physics,” reads one comment. “Change your appearance and then maybe people would start taking you seriously.”
Because clearly Ash in a sweater and glasses looks far less like an expert than Hank in…a sweater and glasses. I wonder what the key difference between their two appearances is?
Hank Green has done a lot to make educational content free and accessible online through his TikToks and various YouTube channels over the years. But he’s not the only one doing so and the more we shine a light on women and BIPOC people in STEM, the more diverse perspectives we can amplify within those fields.
(featured image: Hank Green/Vlogbrothers)
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