Representative Speier Calls on AAAS to Address Sexism in Science

In an open letter to Rush Holt (PDF – 974KB), the CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and executive publisher of Science, Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA) writes:

Women who speak out about these incidents have been subjected to torrents of online abuse, including rape and death threats. Female scientists from underrepresented minorities, already a small group, have been subjected to even more vociferous abuse and have received limited support from scientific institutions…At the beginning of the 21st century, while we are in the midst of exploring the solar system, unlocking the human genome, and creating ever-more-advanced technology, the demographics and attitudes of scientists and engineers must not be trapped in the 19th century.
Representative Jackie Speier

One of the things that was made apparent in the revelations about Geoff Marcy’s assaults on students was that our inherited culture of institutionalized science has favored protecting those in power over protecting those without. In many ways, the AAAS represents the scientific legacy of the United States. Representative Speier notes some missteps in Science that reflect that destructive culture.

The AAAS also has the opportunity to represent the future of science – a future that is inclusive and prioritizes the humanity of all. Representative Speier also notes the recent editorial by Bernard Wood in Science that chastises his fellow established scientists for failing to substantively address misconduct in their own ranks as a small step in the correct direction.

The third “A” in AAAS stands for “Advancement”. Representative Speier is asking the AAAS to recognize that overcoming its sexist heritage is a critical issue for the advancement of science into the 21st Century.

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