Academic Science Isn’t Sexist, Insist Sexists

This is my latest on Slate–in the science section!!! (And later this week I’ve got one coming out in XX, the women’s section! I’m branching out!!!!!).

UPDATE: In case you were wondering about the state of sexism viz. the trolls of American magazines, take a li’l gander at the comments on this piece, half of which say “well, girls can’t do math” (which is hilarious, given that one of the main conclusions C&W came to was that girls CAN do math), and the other half of which claim that men are the oppressed minority in academia. The world is hella fucking sexist, you guyz. Hella fucking sexist. Jeez.

Like many of you, I read the recent NYT op-ed proclaiming “Academic Science Isn’t Sexist” and scratched my stupid female head a lot. Then I went out into the world and asked the opinion of every scientist and social scientist I could find, some of whom agreed with at least a few of the NYT authors’ conclusions, but most of whom were pretty upset about it.

My favorite part of this article is where I call out the NYT for not disclosing that this revolutionary paper was printed in a Journal that Stephen Ceci founded (for the uninitiated, that would be akin to me insisting that Bell Biv Devoe was better than New Edition, and that I could prove it with my brand-new research paper in the Journal of Critical Schuman Studies):

Yet, many other scientists I communicated with over the weekend say the problem is that the conclusion of Ceci and Williams’ study—that “academic science isn’t sexist”—contradicts much of their own presented data. The paper’s weaknesses just might be the result of where it’s published, i.e. the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest, for which Ceci serves as founding co-editor—meaning he has printed his work in his own journal. Why the Paper of Record did not disclose this relationship is, frankly, baffling to me.

I want to thank the many, many people I interviewed for this piece whose quotes didn’t make it in — it was just for space, and you are all wonderful, and I could not have written this article without you, as I quite openly know jack squat about science. But I do know that there is still a Bobby, Ronnie, Ricky, and Mike (and Johnny) for every Sasha in most of the sciences, and — in the words of Ricky, Ronnie and Mike — the situation is serious.

(And yes, I am annoyed I was not able to work “never trust a big butt and a smile” into this promo, especially given the current size of my butt, which continues to keep pace with my belly.)

8 thoughts on “Academic Science Isn’t Sexist, Insist Sexists

  1. I’m really glad you took this on, although it’s depressing that the same tired hogwash gets periodically resurrected as though it were science. It’s amazing how the “research” that makes it to the popular press is always the stuff people believe anyway.

    In mathematics–a place where gender bias can’t possibly exist because math is “objective”–there is an alarming pattern of tenured or TT men faculty being married to mathematician women (only mathematicians can stand other mathematicians), but the women are almost invariably employed as adjuncts or in nonacademic jobs, unless she’s a whole lot better than he is.


  2. If you publish in the Science and women’s sections, how can there me any discrimination? #NotAllSlateSections

    I’m not sure that publishing in a journal that you also edit is so bad. It could be an obvious conflict of interest but maybe not. an easy work-around is for another coeditor to handle the peer review process.

    That’s not to say that the conclusion of the paper is correct. Your Slate column covers a lot of the dispute but I don’t know if the editorship is an issue.


    • It *might* not be an issue–but it should be disclosed!!! Also, you really think someone would have the balls to reject your article from your own journal? You’d just send it to a different (more obsequious) reviewer. He is a well-regarded senior academic, though, so he would just get in with minimal review everywhere, as is generally the case. (I have reviewed a well-regarded senior academic’s [very unimpressive, sloppy, self-referential] paper and been pressured to accept it as-is.)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Interestingly, all the articles for this journal are commissioned by the editors. They don’t accept unsolicited manuscripts. Not mentioned if they go through any blind outside review. So they could presumably decide to commission an article designed to make the case that science isn’t sexist, rather than one designed to explore the topic impartially.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Re: today’s update. The trolls are just saying what an awful lot of better-socialized people are thinking. At least the trolls are open about it.


  5. I’ve already reached my misogyny exposure limit for the day, so I read your excellent article, felt contented that the world has sane, humane, and smart people like you in it, and then gleefully skipped the comments. I’m reading Slate like it’s a magazine that got delivered to my house in 1998, y’all.

    I learned this little strategy from wise, wise you.


Leave a Reply to Rebecca Schuman Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s