Looks like #addmaleauthorgate is winding down. I tried throughout the episode to better understand when, if ever, gender diversity is a good idea. I posted and tweeted and commented because I perceived a tension between (1) the belief that gender diversity produces benefits, and (2) the belief that it was sexist for a peer reviewer to suggest that gender diversity might produce benefits for a particular manuscript on gender bias.
I posted a few comments at Dynamic Ecology as I was starting to think about #addmaleauthorgate. The commenters there were nice, but I did not get much insight about how to resolve the conflict that I perceived.
I posted my first blog post on the topic, which WT excerpted here in a comment. JJ, Ph.D posted a reply comment here that made me think, but on reflection I thought that the JJ, Ph.D comment was based on an unnecessary assumption. One of the comments at that blog post did lead to my second #addmaleauthorgate blog post.
I received a comment on my first blog post, from Marta, which specified Marta's view of the sexism in the review:
Suggesting getting male input to fix the bias is sexist - the reviewer implies that the authors would not have come to the same conclusions if a male had read the paper.
That's a perfectly defensible idea, but its generalization has implications, such as it being sexist to suggest that a woman be placed on a team investigating gender bias; after all, the implication in suggesting gender diversity in that case would be that an all-male team is unable to draft a report on gender bias without help from a woman.
The most dramatic interaction occurred on Twitter. After that, I figured that it was a good time to stop asking questions. However, I subsequently received two additional substantive responses. First, Zuleyka Zevallos posted a comment at Michael Eisen's blog that began:
Gender diversity is a term that has a specific meaning in gender studies – it comes out of intersectional feminist writing that demonstrates how cis-gender men, especially White men, are given special privileges by society and that the views, experiences and interests of women and minorities should be better represented.
Later that day, Karen James tweeted:
...diversity & inclusion are about including traditionally oppressed or marginalized groups. Men are not one of those groups.
Both comments refer to the asymmetry-in-treatment explanation that I referred to in note 4 of my first #addmaleauthorgate post. That is certainly a way to reconcile the two beliefs that I mentioned at the top of this post.
Some more housekeeping. My comments here and here and here did not get very far in terms of attracting responses that disagreed with me. I followed up on a tweet characterizing the "whole review" by asking for the whole review to be made public, but that went nowhere; it seems suboptimal that there is so much commentary about a peer review that has been selectively excerpted.
A writer for Science Insider wrote an article indicating that Science Insider had access to the whole review. I asked for the writer to post the whole review, but the writer tweeted that I should contact the authors for this particular newsworthy item. I don't think that is how journalism is supposed to work.
I replied to a post on the topic in Facebook and might have posted comments elsewhere online. I make no claim about the exhaustiveness of the above links. The links aren't chronological, either.
One more larger point. It seems that much of the negative commentary on this peer review mischaracterizes the peer review. This mischaracterization is another method by which to make it easier to dismiss thoughtful consideration of ideas that one does not want to consider.
Here is a description of the peer review:
...that someone would think it was OK to submit a formal review of a paper that said "get a male co-author"
Very strange use of quotes in that case, given that the quoted passage did not appear in the public part of the review. Notice also the generalization to "paper" instead of "paper on gender bias" and the more forceful description of "get" as opposed to "It would probably also be beneficial."
Here is more coverage of the peer review:
A scientific journal sparked a Twitter firestorm when it rejected two female scientists' work partly because the paper they submitted did not have male co-authors.
If there is any evidence that the same manuscript would not have been rejected or would have had a lesser chance of being rejected if the manuscript had male co-authors, please let me know.
One more example, from a radio station:
This week the dishonour was given to academic journal PLos One for rejecting a paper written by two female researchers on the basis that they needed to add a male co-author to legitimize their work.
I would be interested in understanding which part of the review could be characterized with the word "needed" and "legitimize." Yes, it would be terribly sexist if the reviewer wrote that the female researchers "needed to add a male co-author to legitimize their work"; however, that did not happen.