Scientific Slander



Fall 2006: Just another semester to express your academic prowess. You wouldn’t call yourself a nerd, but you are hitting those science books hard and proud.

Finally, women are raking in the prestige in this traditionally male-dominated field due to hard work. Thank you, Jane Goodall, Marie Curie and the cast of “Grey’s Anatomy.” Researchers have found that the percentage of female authors in scientific journals rose from 5.9 to 29.3 percent in 35 years.

Yet, Harvard University President Larry Summers had to burst that progress bubble when he suggested that women were less capable in the sciences. His narrow-mindedness made it clear that gender discrimination is alive and well. To refute him, transgendered Stanford neuroscientist Ben Barres (born Barbara Barres) described in the weekly journal of science Nature how his career improved post-surgery. This supports Yale University’s findings that reviewers automatically assume a female’s articles are less strong.

Will science ever get over the stereotype that women lack the confidence and are too family-focused to be successful scientists? Perhaps there is a way for journals to do a blind-read each time they consider an article – yet is this realistic in our society where name-recognition is prioritized?

For now, we will have to continue with what women have been doing for three decades: slowly and steadily proving the stereotypes wrong.