Wednesday, 29 June, 2022
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Indians mansplain ‘planets’ to an engineer who helped land Curiosity rover on Mars

Anita Sengupta, a former NASA scientist, even shared a chart on how men can avoid the temptation to mansplain.

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New Delhi: Anita Sengupta, a former NASA scientist credited with developing a supersonic parachute that helped put the US space agency’s Curiosity rover on Mars, is being ‘mansplained’ planetary sciences on Twitter.

Mansplaining is the act of a man explaining something — typically to a more qualified woman — in a manner regarded as condescending or patronising.

Sengupta, co-founder of Airspace Experience Technologies, took to Twitter Saturday to express support for the efforts of ISRO’s Chandrayaan-2 mission team, saying that landing on any planet is hard.

Having had first-hand experience of such landings during her stint at NASA, Sengupta was commenting on the overall science of landing a robot on a body other than Earth.

However, Indian men on Twitter immediately felt the need to point out to the popular scientist — who has over 20 years of experience in the field of aeronautics — that the Moon was not a planet.

In a retort, Sengupta explained that EDL (Entry, Descent and Landing), a subject on which she gives classes at the University of Southern California in the US, deals with landing on all airless bodies.

She even shared a chart on how men can avoid the temptation to mansplain.

Sengupta’s achievements

Sengupta spent many years on the development of the supersonic parachute, specifically understanding how it would behave in the supersonic flow on Mars.

After years of testing in wind tunnels and conducting computer simulations to make sure it would be strong enough to do the job, the parachute helped the Curiosity rover land safely on Mars on 5 August 2012. Sengupta has described this moment as the technical highlight of her career.

She was also the project manager of the Cold Atom Laboratory, a facility for the study of ultra-cold quantum gases in the microgravity environment of the International Space Station (ISS). The project will enable research in a temperature regime and force-free environment that is inaccessible to terrestrial laboratories.

Yet, the tweets trying to point out her ‘mistake’ show that despite her incredible achievements, men continue to feel entitled to invalidate the professional experiences of more qualified women through oversimplified comments and arguments. Women in sciences regularly take to Twitter to call out such behaviour.

Also read: Pakistan science minister, army PRO Asif Ghafoor troll India on Chandrayaan-2 setback


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  1. Shame on you Ms Mohana Basu for writing this from a feminazis’ perspective. When mistakes are made, it’s only inevitable that people will point it out irrespective of the gender. Mansplaining is a myth!

  2. As a responsible journalist, you should present both sides of the story and not a half truth. Apurv has posted series of tweets to clear the circumstances in which this exchange has happened. Let us not jump to conclusion saying mansplaining

  3. Of course, women never act like the know more than they do. Why is this a dig at men only? Women never do this? Really?

  4. Ms Mohana Basu, you should be ashamed of yourself for writing such a sexist article defending that sexist remark made by Ms Sengupta. I understand her inclination to criticize someone for knit-picking, but that’s it. That’s all it should have been. But she made something else out of it. And you’re supporting that? Great journalism. The Print would be proud.

    You didn’t even need to do a lot of research, but if you had given Twitter replies just a glance with unbiased eyes, you’d notice there were women correcting her as well. You can become an expert, but that doesn’t give you the power to change facts. It would’ve been great to see her accept her mistake, because even the experts make them, and move on, instead of coming up with the “mansplaining” crap which you’re supporting.

  5. Lessons to Emulate: If you got egg on your face, act like everything is normal. Better yet, blame the opposite sex for discrimination and become a “victim”. You’ll be seen as a savior and the Print will publish your story without even throwing a cursory glance! They only moderate the comments section.

  6. Stop munching the words. Dr Sengupta is a learned, e experience scientist. Only science can understand her comment. May be it was beyond common person’s understanding.

    • She is expert. Ok. Fine. Does it make moon a planet? I am also from Astronomy faculty. If I slipped my tongue, I correct and move on. I dont bully my student with, ‘I know better than you’ attitude.

  7. Mansplaining – a word that was made up to justify the inadvertent mistakes committed by women, aimed at finding solace in solitude.

  8. Dear Sir/Madam,

    When I was younger, growing up the 50s and 60s, I longed to find a well educated and thinking girl like Sengupta. She is surely a “dream” lady, rare and precious. It would be a privilege to meet her and have the opportunity to talk to her – to discuss many things.

  9. Wow looks like everyone missed the point.
    Satellite or planet, it’s (The Post) is about landing in an unknown atmosphere and is hard for first time,. Thats it. Thanks for the insight. Why the fuck would you show over smartness ,MoOn iS NoT a PlAnEt , people without scientific temperament wanna act like nazi, obviously even this lady got derailed and just fell into their trap, by reacting to the troll.

    • Nobody missed the point. It’s just that people like pointing out mistakes as if they make none. Make a grammatical mistake, and they’ll make sure you either do not make another one again or not post a comment ever in the first place.

      Now either you could be silent about it, or you could respond to the comments. Ms Sengupta did the latter, which again would have been fine had she been professional about it and not brought the gender in between this. Can’t really blame the people for not talking about the original point now when a big media house like The Print is defending her for making that sexist remark.

  10. “Mansplaining” is a term used by bigoted women to ascribe negative actions ALL people do only to men because of previously stated bigotry. It’s a hateful term, used by ignorant people (mostly women).

  11. The whole world is like this. A spot makes a plain paper not plain. Mistakes never go unnoticed. That too when a scientist refers a satellite as a planet…. ppl will notice n mention though be a man or a woman.
    I think any achievements (of her) mean nothing when u r in dire need of attitude adjustment. She might be indian but there is no india in her. Just ignore her.

  12. If you make a dumb mistake, make a polite apology and move on. Mansplaining cannot your stupidity. God save your students!

  13. Mansplaning??
    What a stupidity. This writer is pretty much suck upto her western idiots who dont know shit about

  14. You use words like “Mansplained” to shun men.Because It Works , But Is It Right ?

    If a Man shuns a female from speaking, asks her not to interfere, or even outright tells her not to speak, it is considered wrong (rightly so) Because It Works.But If someone does that every one stands against him.
    Shouldn’t we Stand against this type of Injustice where a female can say what ever she wants , But a man can’t ?
    And Don’t Start Saying that the World is filled with mysogony because It’s 2019.
    The World is finally embracing Equality and men are letting go of the grip they once had over women.Slowly but Steadily.
    We are all moving towards Equality,
    When Will You ?

  15. I usually thought women fight women. Attitude matters. Not much of difference between planet and satellite, as for as soft landing is concerned, particularly in relation to Moon and Mars. Ofcourse, if we want to compare with Saturn and Jupitor they are much different, even though we may call them planets and they do have satellites. This woman may be expert, but the problem is attitude. But whole discussion is pure crap.

  16. I don’t think that guy has any ulterior motive .He just see something and said it. That’s it the end of story but she is the one, who stretch all the thing and you guys stretch that issue even further by making an article about it.

  17. I don’t think that guy has any ulterior motive .He just see something and said it. That’s it the end of story but she is the one, who stretch all the thing and you guys stretch that issue even further .Well i don’t wanna say it but it seems like the author of this article must feminist.

  18. This flaming pile of trash is what passes for journalism these days? Slaves like you hear words like “mansplain” used in the Western context and you’re like “we must use this here to seem cool and hip and whatnot” because you think aping the west mindlessly gives you some sort of legitimacy.

    If a guy had said it, it wouldn’t have stopped these Uber nerds from correcting him too. You’re trying to grasp at a correlation that doesn’t exist and it’s making you look really really stupid.

  19. She think she knows more than anyone else But I don’t respect people who prefer to work for nasa instead of helping t here own country’s space program. In my eyes, her achievement are bunch of trashs

    • She deserves respect as she has made a position for herself in NASA . That is not easy being an Asian woman. She has also made India proud.
      India does not have jobs for every Indians. It is natural some Indians would look for jobs in other countries. that does not make them less Indian.

      • Where did she make India proud? She got a job in NASA and one of the 8780 people involved in that mission. She may know thing, but she slipped her tongue and got offended when someone pointed that. She could have corrected and moved on than bringing gender bias in that. And now gets trolled badly by her own gender.

  20. I would suggest Dr. Sengupta that by putting the the word ‘man’ in front of the manner these people were conducting whatever they were doing, she doing something that she is clearly against of, that is making a sexist remark. Stop being a hypocrite and please show some professionalism if you hate the casual attitude of these people so much.

  21. There’s a disconnect between the scientist and the laypersons. Sengupta may not be ideal for an outreach program in spite of her immense knowledge and experience.

    • Agreed. If she wanted to be particular about airless bodies then she should have just said so. There’s no denying she’s the expert in the matter but inserting the word planet made it easy for some to jump to correct her– though there are those that could have been politer. Why can’t people just be nice anymore?

      • That’s because unfortunately, in this tech world, people heed to emoticons rather than the message. It’s a matter of misconstruction, everywhere around social media. Is politeness (in a typed message)defined just by emoticons? Because I don’t see any user being impolite.

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