I'm often slow to the punch when things hit the internet, and as a consequence regularly avoid re-hashing things that others have covered better. Such was the case yesterday when the cover of Science hit the stands and others were quick to call bullshit, and zoom out a bit at a larger problem. Both of those posts are excellent and thoughtful and I would normally leave it to them.
But the apology by Science Editor-in-Chief Marcia McNutt sincerely rubs me the wrong way.
From Science Editor-in-Chief Marcia McNutt:
Science has heard from many readers expressing their opinions and concerns with the recent [11 July 2014] cover choice.
The cover showing transgender sex workers in Jarkarta was selected after much discussion by a large group and was not intended to offend anyone, but rather to highlight the fact that there are solutions for the AIDS crisis for this forgotten but at-risk group. A few have indicated to me that the cover did exactly that, but more have indicated the opposite reaction: that the cover was offensive because they did not have the context of the story prior to viewing it, an important piece of information that was available to those choosing the cover.
I am truly sorry for any discomfort that this cover may have caused anyone, and promise that we will strive to do much better in the future to be sensitive to all groups and not assume that context and intent will speak for themselves.
-- Marcia McNutt, Editor-in-Chief, the Science family of journals
16 July 2014
Context: Science cover caption -- http://bit.ly/1ytCpYW
So the idea here is that if we had only read the article first we would TOTALLY GET IT and be all "OMG, that's such a great representation of the story!" Whereas it's great that Science is admitting a screw up, they are still confused as to why people were upset. Does it seem like these people would have a different opinion if they saw the picture after reading the article? Yeah, try again Marcia.
— Potty Theron (@pottytheron) July 17, 2014
The cover of science is lurid, hackneyed, and connected to the topic of the issue only because of stereotype perceptions, for starters.
— Francois Gould (@PaleoGould) July 16, 2014
We are bombarded with the Q "Why do women leave STEM?" In the last wk we have 1.) dehumanization of transwomen on the cover of Science (1/3)
— Amanda Yoho (@mandaYoho) July 16, 2014
— Melissa WilsonSayres (@mwilsonsayres) July 16, 2014
— eastsidekate (@eastsidekate) July 16, 2014
@SciCareerEditor This isn't "moral indignation". This is anger, sadness, & embarrassment that my field is yet again marginalizing people.
— Emily Finke (@seelix) July 16, 2014