Top Science Publisher Failing Minority Groups, Industry Leaders Say

The world’s largest professional organization for scientists has been feeding into “harmful stereotypes” about minority groups, including publishing sexist advice columns and transphobic cover photos, critics say.

In an open letter sent last week to the prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science — which is best known for publishing the well-regarded magazine Science and running career-advice site Science Careers — 600 scientists and supporters called on the group to “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 [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] fields.”

The letter, first obtained by BuzzFeed, suggests the AAAS should introduce diversity training for its editorial staffs and more closely monitor the comments sections of its online materials to weed out insensitive statements.

Women battling sexism in science is perhaps the most visible issue, but Jennifer Glass, an assistant professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology and one of the letter’s three main authors, told The Huffington Post it’s important to note their concerns are “not just a women’s issue.”

“This is a broader issue that STEM fields are, by-and-large, not currently welcoming career paths for under-represented groups, particularly people of color,” Glass said.

Glass said telling minority groups that “it’s dangerous to speak out about these issues or advising them to wait until they reach a certain secure point in their careers to point out weaknesses in the system” is an entrenched problem.

Letter co-author Lenny Teytelman agreed that many people are hesitant to speak out about inequalities in the field, noting there’s a concern within the scientific community that calling out issues like sexism might be seen as a distraction.

“If people think you’re being a activist, they’ll think you’re not focusing on your research and —> Read More