Scientists Condemn Journal For Promoting 'Damaging Stereotypes'


On Tuesday, over 600 scientists and their peers co-signed an open letter addressed to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), calling the organization — in particular, its Science Careers publication — on its sexist bullshit.

The letter, which was published first on BuzzFeed News, condemns the organization for reinforcing “damaging stereotypes about underrepresented groups in STEM fields,” and outlines four recent instances of the publication of sexist, damaging articles.

In one instance, a postdoctoral researcher was advised to “put up” with workplace sexual harassment “with good humor.” Another article explained how a male scientist managed to balance his heavy work load: his Ph.D. scientist wife “took on the bulk of the domestic responsibilities.” Also referenced was an offensively stereotypical cover about transgender sex workers (featured above) and a terrible tweet from the editor of Science Careers which asked, “Am I the only one who finds moral indignation really boring?”

The scientists advise:

We request that Science’s editorial staff and reviewers work more diligently to ensure that Science’s web and printed material does not reinforce harmful stereotypes that hinder the advancement of underrepresented groups in STEM fields. Such material is counter to the AAAS’s stated mission to: “advance science, engineering, and innovation throughout the world for the benefit of all people.”
In particular, we suggest STEM diversity training for Science and Science Careers editorial staff and additional scrutiny of published materials, columns, and comments that are posted on Science’s online blogs and Twitter feeds, which illustrate the opinions and priorities of “the world’s leading outlet for scientific news, commentary, and cutting-edge research” and “the world’s largest general scientific society.”

Science editor-in-chief Marcia McNutt responded to the letter, noting that the two publications have had “a couple of missteps, which we regret.”

“It came to seem as if the editors of Science Careers were trolling the scientific community,” said a co-signer Janet Stemwedel, a philosopher at San Jose State University in an interview. “The big worries are that Science Careers was dispensing advice that didn’t just assume the status quo (where inclusion of scientists who are not White men is still very much a work in progress), but that actually bolstered that status quo.”

Contact the author at [email protected].

Image via AAAS

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