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Kari Byron, On the Importance of Representation in Science

she blinded me with science

Kari Byron spoke to Mother Jones recently on what it’s like being the Chick on Mythbusters, what her inner twelve year old would think about what she’s doing now, and how babies and science are totally compatible. You just might have to ask your doctor a lot of unexpected questions.

Byron, Mythbuster and host of Mythbusters spinoff Head Rush, didn’t intend to go into science, or even television science, as a career. She was working as a receptionist to make ends meet while she tried to get a career in sculpting off the ground. Then a tour of Jamie Hyneman‘s studio inspired her, she managed to get herself an internship there, Mythbusters took off, she got pulled in, and the rest is history. She’s very much aware of the potential her presence has to inspire.

I’ve met so many mothers who were telling me that their girl was interested because I was on the show… And that really touched me, because when I was 12 years old, I kind of stopped being interested in science. It wasn’t something that could compete with boys and rock stars and MTV. You didn’t have role models. Even on TV, the doctors were all men.

The goal of Head Rush, which I had honestly never heard of before (it’s what I get for not having cable television, I suppose) is to speak directly to that 12 year old girl she remembers, and do the things that would have kept her interested in science. Hmm, Kari Byron the Science Siren? That might need some work.

You can listen to Byron’s entire interview at Mother Jones, but one of the more amusing bits of it is her description of talking to her doctor about continuing her work on the Mythbusters set while pregnant with her daughter.

“I’d be going to my doctor saying, ‘All right, so, when do I have to stop shooting guns because she has ears?’ And the doctor would say, ‘Hmm, I have never, ever had that question before. I’ll get back to you.’ I come back a little later: ‘How far away do I need to be from an explosion of this much C-4?’ ‘Huh, I’ve never had that question asked. I have no idea, I don’t even know where to refer you right now, I’ll get back to you.’”

Nerd mom problems.

(via Mother Jones.)

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