This doesn't belong in science. At all.

March 21, 2014

When I first started noticing the opportunity to submit a “Graphical Abstract” for my papers I was initially perplexed as to why I would bother. Then I realized that the Graphical Abstract (at Elsevier titles anyway) could be a way to get the primary data figure out in front of the paywall. So I thought maybe we should do that.

Some joker has apparently concluded that he should use the Graphical Abstract space for being a sexist jerk.

via Dr. Isis, via this article. Elsevier has promised to pull the image so it may not last at the journal link.

Hur, hur, dudes, hur, de-hur, de-hur.

As detailed by Dr. Zen, Pier Giorgio Righetti is an author on at least four articles with highly sexualized Graphical Abstracts. Professor Righetti apparently responded to a query about the wisdom of one of these images with:

I wonder if you have been trained in the Vatican. As you claim to be a professor of Physiology, let me alert you that this image is physiology at its best!

This sounds remarkably like Dario Mastripieri who famously lamented the lack of attractive “super-model type” women at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience on his Facebook page. This sexualization of women in a professional scientific and/or academic context has to stop. This is harassment of women in science. It lets all women in this job sector know that these dudes, senior figures with some influence mind you, see them as nothing other than potential sexual conquests. It is unfair, it is rude, it is detrimental to science and it is utterly unacceptable.

Professor Righetti  is on the Editorial Board of several journals, including the offending Journal of Proteomics where he is listed as the expert under the heading of “Proteomics of Body Fluids and Proteomic Technologies“. Eww.  And it gets better. @Drew_lab queried the Journal’s EIC Juan Calvete and received a dispiriting response.

At least it wasn’t a complete brush off such as Professor Righetti gave. But it isn’t a whole lot better.

I hope to settle the case as soon as possible to devote to the lab, which is what should take me up most of the day.

…this translates in my ear to “this is some absolute triviality and sure, sure, we’ll take down the images but really don’t you people have better things to worry about?

Not really, no. The EIC Calvete has himself identified why this is the case. All scientists would prefer to use their time and energy in ways that are devoted to lab business. Unfortunately, reality intervenes. And when male scientists are hitting on, slavering over, disrespecting, leering at, joking about and generally treating female scientists as property, this takes away from the energy the women (and indeed other men who have to witness this crap) have available to devote to science.

So what would really be great is if an EIC like Calvete identified this sort of inappropriate image (hint: it IS inappropriate, not “may be inappropriate”) in advance and prevented it from being published in the first place. It would be great if authors such as Righetti avoiding submitting these things. It would be great if Professors like Mastripieri kept their nasty little observations locked up tight inside their own heads.


Now go read Isis’ post. Reason #140 Why Sexist Bullshit in Academia is Not Okay

13 Responses to “This doesn't belong in science. At all.”

  1. Yes, it remains a TOTAL MYSTERY why more women don’t continue on in academic science.

    Surely they could expect to have their work taken seriously on their own merits, and to receive all the support possible from their colleagues should they face bias or harassment!

    These dudes are making academic philosophers look more enlightened by comparison. And lately, that ain’t good!


  2. Jim Woodgett Says:

    Hoping that Elsevier recognizes the multiple levels of problems here and does something more substantial than removing the images.

    1. Inappropriate, sexist imagery irrelevant to the data.
    2. Published by Editor in Chief of same journal.
    3. That passed whatever QC is in place within the publishing house.
    4. Was in place for at least two years.
    5. No scientific justification.
    6. Intent.

    Really, what was the intent? To attract readership or submissions? To set an editorial example? Male plumage?


  3. Eli Rabett Says:

    Perhaps the only valid response to the Journal and Professor Righetti is go fuck yourself asshole. CPP will be here soon.


  4. […] This doesn’t belong in science. At all. […]


  5. dsks Says:

    Calvete is really doubling down on the weirdness. He’s over on Isis’ blog arguing drawing equivalences between “loverly bunch o’ coconuts” up there and Michelangelo’s David.


  6. drugmonkey Says:

    Yeah the EIC is really not winning friends with that nonsense. Assuming it is really him.


  7. drugmonkey Says:

    Righetti is apparently no longer listed on the Elsevier page as an Executive Editor for the Journal of Proteomics.

    Accusations of hysterical Internet bullying witch hunt in….


  8. Eli Rabett Says:

    Great, now the chief editor who has been trolling the net needs to go


  9. drugmonkey Says:

    Yeah, his days seem numbered to me. Would take some time to select a new EIC for a society journal though so I wouldn’t expect immediate replacement.


  10. drugmonkey Says:

    Yes, sexism certainly is an attitude, Editor Calvete.


  11. […] This doesn’t belong in science. At all. […]


  12. […] kind of like that idiot who used the Graphical Abstract of Elsevier published journals to post cheesecake […]


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