WORLD NEWS Guidelines for naming planet’s surface features ‘biased towards men’

Guidelines for naming planet’s surface features ‘biased towards men’


- Advertisment -

An analysis of the International Astronomical Union’s (IAU) database has also revealed that only 32 (2%) out of 1,578 known Moon craters bear a woman’s name.

Planetary features are distinctive characteristics or elements present on the surface of, or within, the planet.

Alongside craters, they also include mountains, valleys, canyons, volcanoes, oceans, deserts and many more.

In an open letter published in the journal Nature Astronomy, Annie Lennox, a doctoral researcher at The Open University, said the male-biased culture of naming planetary features “inherently disadvantages women and marginalised groups”.

She is urging the IAU – an international association of professional astronomers – to change its policies which are “biased towards cis (cisgender) white men”.

Ms Lennox, from Aberdeenshire, said: “Space exploration has revealed worlds of rock, of ice and… metal.

“For all the worlds in our solar system, it has become customary to name prominent surface features such as craters.

“Distant craters on the Moon, Mars and Mercury record a history much closer to home: celebrating the achievements of mankind, and to a much lesser extent womankind.”

Italian astronomer Giovanni Battista Riccioli first started naming lunar craters in 1635, adopting the names of famous scientists for his discoveries – a convention still maintained by the IAU today, Ms Lennox said.

While the IAU does not bestow the names itself, it does help establish working groups or task forces to propose and approve names for specific features based on certain guidelines – often honouring historical figures or mythology or cultural themes.

The Open University researcher Annie Lennox (The Open University/PA)

Ms Lennox said IAU’s guidelines have an impact on the diversity and inclusivity for the scientific communities that ultimately choose the names.

She said: “Surface features are named following conventions that are set and maintained by the IAU.

“Frustratingly, elements of the current conventions crystallise historic injustices and contribute to a lack of diversity within the nomenclature.

“This is an example of how systemic underrepresentation and undervaluation of women and marginalised groups manifests in today’s scientific systems.”

Her research found Mercury to fare slightly better than Moon and Mars in women’s representations – with 49 out of 415 (11.8%) craters bearing a female name.

Ms Lennox believes this is because Mercury is a more recently explored planet compared to some of the others in the solar system and may have benefited from the increase in the number of women working in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Mars comes out the worst, with just five of the 280 (1.8%) craters named after women.

Meanwhile, all crater names in Venus have a female origin but Ms Lennox said that only 38% “are named after actual women who made real contributions to society”.

She said: “On the one planet intended to exclusively celebrate the contributions of women, more features have been given meaningless, arbitrary female first names or the names of mythological goddesses than those of real women.

“The crux of this argument is that weighting celebrity status – placing an emphasis on recognition and essentially prioritising fame over contribution – inherently disadvantages women and marginalised groups regardless of the field.”

Ms Lennox said that researching names of craters across planets has been her starting point but she is now working with teams around the world to analyse every named feature in the solar system.

She said: “I myself have named some craters.

“I knew I wanted to name my discoveries after women as I could sense a dearth of women represented in the area I was studying, despite statistics on this not being readily available.

“That realisation really prompted this whole project.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest news

‘Hold Your Horses,’ Says Deutsche Bank About AMD Stock

Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ:AMD) might be playing catch up with Nvidia in the AI chip game, but it intends...

You’ve been making your bed all wrong – my bottom sheet trick means you’ll be toasty without a hot water bottle

A SAVVY woman has revealed her simple trick to ensure she never wakes up cold in the middle of...

Bigg Boss 17: Is K-Pop Singer Aoora Entering The BB House As A Wildcard? Watch Promo

Bigg Boss 17: Who Is THIS K-Pop Singer Entering The BB House As A Wildcard? (Credit- Instagram)The mad house...
- Advertisement -

NewJeans Member Haerin Stars in Elle Korea D Edition

Haerin covers Elle Korea, photography © Kim Hee June NewJeans member Haerin takes the cover story of Elle Korea Magazine‘s...

House votes to censure Rep. Jamaal Bowman for fire alarm stunt

The House of Representatives is formally reprimanding Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., on Thursday morning over his pulling of...

Must read

- Advertisement -

You might also likeRELATED
Recommended to you