Sophia Spencer, 8, loves bugs — especially grasshoppers. She’s an expert on insects, and likes to give her littlest friends an occasional ride on her shoulder.
That used to earn her mockery from her peers. But now it’s earned her a massive outpouring of support — and a byline in the Annals of the Entomological Society of America.
Everything changed after Sophia’s mom, Nicole Spencer, reached out to scientists for support last year.
She wrote to the Entomological Society of Canada and explained the dilemma. Her daughter wanted to know if she could learn more about bugs as a job, but her mom wasn’t sure how to encourage her. And she wanted to reassure her that her entomological enthusiasm wasn’t weird.
Mission accomplished. The organization tweeted out the appeal, with the hashtag #BugsR4Girls, and hundreds of people responded with encouragement. Scores of working entomologists reached out to share their stories. And Sophia joined forces with Morgan Jackson, the entomology Ph.D. candidate who wrote that tweet, to write a paper about the role Twitter can serve in promoting women in science.