Nature apologizes for publishing letter dismissing need for gender balance
In yesterday’s Weekend Reads, we highlighted a piece by Hope Jahren explaining why she wouldn’t agree to a Q&A with Nature. We found out after Weekend Reads had posted that the story had moved on, so here’s an update.
The publication of research papers should be based on quality and merit, so the gender balance of authors is not relevant in the same way as it might be for commissioned writers (see Nature 504, 188; 2013). Neither is the disproportionate number of male reviewers evidence of gender bias.
It went on from there, as Kelly Hills describes.
Friday morning, in an addendum to the letter, Nature editor-in-chief Philip Campbell apologized for printing it:
Nature has a strong history of supporting women in science and of reflecting the views of the community in our pages, including Correspondence. Our Correspondence pages do not reflect the views of the journal or its editors; they reflect the views only of the correspondents.
We do not endorse the views expressed in this Correspondence (or indeed any Correspondences unless we explicitly say so). On re-examining the letter and the process, we consider that it adds no value to the discussion and unnecessarily inflames it, that it did not receive adequate editorial attention, and that we should not have published it, for which we apologize. This note will appear online on nature.com in the notes section of the Correspondence and in the Correspondence’s pdf.
Nature’s own positive views and engagement in the issues concerning women in science are represented by our special from 2013: http://www.nature.com/women
Here’s Hills’s response to the apology.