Internet feminists are outraged after a scientific journal told a group of female researchers that their work on gender bias in academia was gender biased.
Two female evolutionary geneticists collaborated on the piece, which claimed that fewer women Ph.D. candidates were published by established scientific journals, leading them to believe, based on interviews with women across the scientific fields, that the publishing industry was biased against female scientists.
When they submitted their article to a journal that specializes in publishing research on diversity in the fields of science and medicine, a reviewer suggested that the women include a male voice in their study, just to show that they, themselves, were not coming at the issue from a position of gender bias.
The Internet immediately exploded with outrageous outrage.
The suggestion doesn’t seem all that problematic: It doesn’t say that the two authors have to add a third, male author, or that they should retract the study. It doesn’t even say they’re required to submit their work to the Patriarchal male gaze in order to have it published. It just says that the scientific process would suggest that they obtain another opinion to serve as a check on their implicit biases.
Its not even clear that the reviewer was male. PLOS has refused to reveal the gender of their employee.
But because feminists clearly have no biases, this reviewer was definitely sad, wrong and probably misogynistic. The authors called the mere suggestion “unprofessional” and “inappropriate” and argued that the reviewer “didn’t have any constructive or specific criticism to work on.”
They also claimed that the mere concern of gender-based bias in a feminist-authored paper proved their point that women are oppressed within the scientific publishing community.
The journal, PLOS, was forced to say they were sorry and retract the critique; they now claim, also, that they’ve placed the reviewer on leave until they can determine exactly what happened. Their article on the uber-politicization of science may provide their editorial team with some insight.
Not content to let the issue go with a mere apology, feminists quickly spiraled the issue out from “women authors are oppressed in science” to “women authors are oppressed everywhere” and took to whining on Twitter about the unfairness of legitimate criticism.
Weirdly, as a woman writer, I’ve been able to publish a number of articles, in my year at Heat Street, without once being asked whether my husband approved. Must be a flaw in our editorial policy.