Viral Tweet Helps Unidentified Woman In Old Photo Get The Props She Deserves
It took nearly 50 years, but this mystery woman and her important work is a mystery no more
When one Twitter user stumbled across a photo showing a large group of people attending a conference in 1971, it was notable there was only one female attendee, a woman of color whose name wasn’t listed. The rest of the attendees were men, and each of them were recognized for their attendance. The female attendee remained the only person unidentified — and Twitter simply wasn’t having any of that.
Candace Jean Andersen shared the photo on Twitter and immediately a mission to solve the mystery of the woman’s identity was underway.
“The woman in this photo was an attendee at a 1971 International Conference on Biology of Whales,” Andersen tweeted. “She is the only woman, and the only one captioned ‘not identified’ in the article I found the photo in. All the men are named. Can you help me know her?”
Responses started pouring in immediately — people everywhere were ready to solve the mystery.
Andersen was able to deduce the identity of the woman who helped organize the conference, who offered to look into it.
Other leads came through, while Anderson tried tirelessly to get in touch with the right people.
And because sometimes, the internet is Good, Andersen was able to get a big boost in solving the mystery thanks to the diligent research conducted by fellow Twitter users who were also determined this woman got her due.
What’s even crazier — although not entirely unbelievable for 1971 — was just HOW MUCH work Sheila Jones did in her field. And yet, she was THE ONLY PERSON not identified in the conference photo.
Sheila was giving lectures and guest speaking in schools, goddamn it. KNOW HER NAME.
Sheila is an educated, accomplished, driven woman whose work has now — finally — been recognized, thanks to Twitter.
Basically, Sheila was a boss ass babe before that was even a thing, OK?
Twitter seems to agree, because the thread surrounding this mystery quickly went viral. People (hi, me) were invested in this.
This is a hugely important point. Even in 2018, careers in science are sorely lacking in diversity. The fact that Sheila Jones is being celebrated 50 years after attending a work conference where she was the only female is wonderful; it’s just sad it took this long. And that her identity was a mystery to be solved in the first place.
But damn, is this a great story.
It’s stories like this one that perfectly demonstrate how amazing technology and social media can be, when used for good. If there were some sort of Twitter Research Award in existence, this would no doubt win by a landslide.
Until that’s a reality, we can all feel good about the discovery and recognition of a woman of color whose work played a significant role in her field.
Sheila Jones, we salute you.
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