Navigating the perilous terrain of online dating takes guts. Sharply shutting down a match who belittles your profession takes skill.
Planetary scientist Lauren Mc Keown, 28, earned widespread praise on Twitter for her response to a man who messaged her on a dating app and underestimated her smarts.
Mc Keown had just moved to London from Ireland, where she’d completed her Ph.D. She turned to the dating app Hinge to make connections in her new city, she said.
The self-proclaimed Mars geek had interned at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California, where she studied how to prevent bone density loss and muscle atrophy in astronauts making the months-long journey to the Red Planet. Clearly, it’s a fun fact worth mentioning on a dating profile, she said.
“I am also not interested in the type of man who would see that as a threat, so I felt I should put it up,” she said.
Within a few days of using the app, she accepted a message from a man who was wowed by her former employer.
“[expletive] me that’s cool. Wait till I tell my parents,” he wrote.
Before she could respond, he asked, “So what are you, like the receptionist? Jk you look reasonably smart.”
The “receptionist” comment upset her, she said, because her mother works as a secretary at a school in Ireland. She credits her mother with encouraging her to finish her doctorate.
So she fired back.
“Smart enough to know at least, that judging a woman’s intelligence based on her appearance might not be the best way to initiate conversation,” she wrote. “P.S. my mother is a primary school receptionist and is the wisest, most inspirational and kindest woman I know. So much so in fact, my PhD thesis is dedicated to her,” punctuated with a waving emoji.
Her tweeted screen shots of the conversation have received nearly 200,000 likes.
Mc Keown didn’t share screenshots of the rest of their conversation, but she said the man told her that he was joking and that she “shouldn’t take things so seriously.”
“I unmatched,” she said.
It’s hardly the first time she’s heard that she “doesn’t look like a scientist,” she said.
“To look at me, you probably wouldn’t think I’m academic,” she said. “We have to be extremely careful not to display aspects of ourselves that might give people further reason to undermine our intelligence.”
Now, she works at London’s Natural History Museum, where she’s continuing her research on Mars and studying the sources of Martian meteorites. She’s also published an article about surface processes on Mars in the journal Nature. But she hopes to return to NASA one day, she said, studying icy moons of faraway planets.
Her advice for future matches on dating apps: Maybe don’t make fun of the person’s profession.
“I guess if you’re attracted to someone enough to initiate conversation, then try not to insult someone,” she said.