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Sexism in science: Peer editor tells female researchers their study needs a male author

Discussion in 'Other Health News and Research' started by Kyla, Apr 30, 2015.

  1. Kyla

    Kyla ᴀɴɴɪᴇ ɢꜱᴀᴍᴩᴇʟ

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    http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/...rs-their-study-needs-a-male-author/?tid=sm_fb

    "After submitting a scientific manuscript for peer review -- the process by which scientists uninvolved in a study will decide whether it's fit to publish -- two female researchers got a nasty shock: The sole review attached to their rejected study suggested that bringing some men into their team might fix all its problems..."

    Just....wow.
    The peer-review system at work.

    Makes me wonder if a lot of issues with the peer-review system (including cronyism and the incredible sexism described here ) could be easily solved by just leaving the authors' names off of studies when they are sent to reviewers.
     
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  2. JAH

    JAH Senior Member

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    Wow. Thanks for posting. Just read over her Twitter feed, at least she is getting a lot of support. Found his complete comments, and when you read them in context, it's actually worse.
     
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  3. SOC

    SOC

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    What shocks me as much as the bogus review is that the journal accepted such a biased, sexist review and turned down the paper as a result. That means there were multiple layers of shocking sexism in this situation, not just one jerk acting alone.
     
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  4. AndyPandy

    AndyPandy Making the most of it

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    Wow. I'm not naive, but still disheartened to think this continues on in 2015.
     
  5. Richard7

    Richard7 Senior Member

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    I am not really surprised, academe is a bastion of privilege. But I do think it's a little sad that the authors thought it important to note that they had run the article past male colleagues before submitting it. They seem to have interalised a bit of that sexism.
     
  6. JaimeS

    JaimeS Senior Member

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    Some commenter noted the field of the scientists in question, and believed they had postulated that it was important and desirable to get more women into science, something pretty much everyone can agree with.

    However, the reviewer took umbrage at their methods, and returned everything they'd said back to them, replacing 'men' with 'women' and 'women' with 'men' to show how supposedly unreasonable they were being. IE, them: "Perhaps we could make it a requirement that a woman be involved in every research group. After all, women have differing perspectives from men." The reviewer: "Perhaps you ought to have made it a requirement that a man be involved with your research. After all, a man has a unique perspective he can offer."

    I think the entire thing was supposed to be showing them the error of their ways.

    I don't think that makes it better! But it does shed some light on how someone in this day and age could be stupid enough to send something like this out into the world where other people could see it. He thought he was being *clever*.

    -J
     
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  7. Kyla

    Kyla ᴀɴɴɪᴇ ɢꜱᴀᴍᴩᴇʟ

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    I agree it wasn't necessary for them to state that male colleagues had read it, but to put it in context the paper was about "gender differences in PhD-postdoc transition", so maybe they felt obliged to say that they had made sure the paper accurately represented both gender views.
     
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  8. Kyla

    Kyla ᴀɴɴɪᴇ ɢꜱᴀᴍᴩᴇʟ

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    I see what you are saying, but I absolutely don't think this makes it any more acceptable.
    the whole tone of the reviewer's comments is condescending and misogynist.
    Apparently the reviewer indicates he has looked at their personal bios, and uses that info for ad hominem attacks throughout the review.
     
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  9. JaimeS

    JaimeS Senior Member

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    @Kyla
    :)

    -J
     
  10. Kyla

    Kyla ᴀɴɴɪᴇ ɢꜱᴀᴍᴩᴇʟ

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    Sorry @JaimeS I wasn't really disagreeing with you, just trying to say the editor should still never have let this see the light of day, as it is clearly not professional or appropriate
     
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  11. JaimeS

    JaimeS Senior Member

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    @Kyla - agreed! The whole thing is awful and miserable. I can't imagine what kind of mind puts something like that together and sends it out. I mean, I believe people have ugly thoughts. It just bowls me over every time they manage to convince themselves that their ugliest thoughts are for public consumption, or that their ugliest and darkest thoughts are worthy of action.

    To me, the worst part of this is the message it sends out into the world where all women, including young women, can see it. The message is we don't want you here, with a side of condescending, you actually thought for a moment you could do this on your own? how darling.

    For those of us - men and women - who are introverts, this could be more than enough inducement to stay away from academia. I found this article by the same author to be interesting: Men (on the Internet) don't believe sexism is a problem in science, even when they see evidence.

    -J
     
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  12. Kyla

    Kyla ᴀɴɴɪᴇ ɢꜱᴀᴍᴩᴇʟ

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  13. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    This is a failure of the review process. It also raises another question: what other biases are distorting the review process? CFS and ME may be hit with a triple whammy of review bias: most patients are female, hence it can face sexist bias. CFS and ME are controversial, hence may face prejudgement. Finally, there is (unjustified) bias toward psychogenic explanations in some people, so papers may face babble bias.

    Peer review has probably always had bias. Someone might be able to write a thesis on bias in academic reviews, or at least a good book.
     
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  14. SOC

    SOC

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    All too often the privileged are offended when their privilege is pointed out. They also become outraged when someone suggests that automatic privilege is unjust and should be eliminated. They vehemently deny that they have privilege while at the same time insisting they're entitled to it. And they can't see the inconsistency in this position. :rolleyes:

    We see it in some men in male-dominated professional fields (woman are getting unfair advantages (by getting exactly what we already get :rolleyes:)), racists in all sorts of areas (blacks/immigrants/anybody-different-from-us) are stealing "our" jobs) and so on. Apparently everything is theirs and others getting any share of their cushy situation is unfair to them.

    Too many people think that they should be be considered better than other people. These people include men who think they deserve more pay and better jobs than women, racists who think they are inherently better than people of different racial/ethnic groups, physicians who think they are superior to all other people, even people who think it's okay to make fun of the disabled, disadvantaged, or different. "I'm superior, so it's perfectly acceptable to consider other people inferiors not deserving of respect or justice."

    Thank goodness that despite the existence of such people, there are still many people who DON'T think like that. There are many good men who believe people should get the jobs and pay they deserve based on merit not gender. I ran into lots of those men in engineering -- far more than those who thought they were superior. Most people (that I know, anyway) are not racists. Few people consider it clever or humorous to make fun of the disabled or disadvantaged.

    So while there are too many self-entitled people in the world, they're the minority. :thumbsup: Now if only they didn't have a disproportionate amount of the power. :(
     
  15. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    In terms of racism, this is often conflated with something else: distrust of those who are different. Its not that these people have a bias against a particular race, or just other races, but have a bias against anything different. The difference between these and racists is that they can be reached ... its just a matter of them learning otherwise. Its very hard to reach racists. A similar argument can apply to homophobia etc.

    There is also another group that have never questioned their bias. That can include sexism. They can usually be reached.
     
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  16. worldbackwards

    worldbackwards A unique snowflake

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    Seems like a classic application of Lewis's Law.
    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helen_Lewis_(journalist)#Lewis.27s_law
     
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  17. Snow Leopard

    Snow Leopard Hibernating

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    It was indeed a failure of the editorial process. Neuroskeptic explains it best here:

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/n...0/sexist-peer-review-and-the-role-of-editors/

    Sadly, sexism is both a cause and a consequence of the many issues with the system of scientific research today...
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2015
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  18. Denise

    Denise Senior Member

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  19. SOC

    SOC

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    AND, according to this article, the Academic Editor who accepted the review and rejected the paper as a result has be asked to step down from the Editorial Board. :thumbsup:

    Congrats to PLOS One for cleaning house and throwing out the garbage, even if it did take a media storm for them to acknowledge the filth they were harboring.
     
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  20. SOC

    SOC

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    One of my engineering profs many years ago said that if he had to hire an engineer without any information about his/her background and had a choice between a male engineer and a female engineer, he'd pick the female because at that time all the women were in the top 20% in the class. He said (and this fits with my experience), women had to be smarter, more determined, and of higher character on average than their male counterparts to succeed in engineering. He ended his commentary on the topic by saying that we would know women had gained equality in engineering when the average female student was average, no better and no worse than the average male student. He estimated that would take another 50-75 years. It's looking like he was about right. It takes about that long for the bigots to die out and stop influencing the field.
     
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