Rita J. King is an accomplished futurist (a type of scientist who "analyzes trends, probability, data from the past and present, and a multitude of other information to postulate potential futures — and what actions to take to obtain the best possible outcome") and is stylish to boot.
When King was asked to deliver a speech at a TedxYouth event for NASA in Langley, Virginia, she showed up in a beautiful, sparkly dress.
Because she wanted to show that scientists could be sparkly.
King recently tweeted about the experience:
"A group of girls had written a letter requesting that I wear something sparkly for the event because they wanted to believe that scientists could be sparkly," King told Buzzfeed News.
"They wanted to see a 'sparkling geek.'"
And sparkle she did.
TEDxYouth@NASA - Rita King - The Future Needs Your Imagination www.youtube.com
The gesture goes toward breaking down stereotypes that somehow dressy, typically "feminine" clothing detracts from a person's level of seriousness about their career--something women have often experienced in male dominated spaces.
The talk took place eight years ago, but King came across the dress just this weekend and was flooded with memories.
"I couldn't believe this dress has been hanging here, and I thought about [that day] and how amazing it was [of the girls] to make the request," she said to Buzzfeed News.
"It seems like at this moment there's something boldly subversive about getting up there and boldly, unapologetically wearing sequins because girls asked you to...I hope what they're responding to is the idea that women have a very important role to play and we have a lot of responsibility on us. Wearing sparkles does not in any way diminish the seriousness of what we're doing."
It's powerful to be reminded of this gesture in an America that feels like it is fighting against expression and breaking molds, when in 2011 it felt celebrated.
Sparkle in every career path—whomever you are.