Open letter to the AAAS on reinforcing damaging stereotypes in STEM

Along with c.600 other scientists, I have recently signed and supported another open letter to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest general scientific society. While the AAAS seeks to “advance science, engineering, and innovation throughout the world for the benefit of all people”, four recent incidents [1,2,3,4] have drawn signficant attention to editorial failings that reinforce damaging stereotypes for underrepresented groups in STEM, particularly on their Science Careers column:

We are writing about four recent AAAS publications and communications in the past 12 months that reinforce damaging stereotypes about underrepresented groups in STEM fields. It is particularly concerning that two of these four pieces originated from Science Careers, which purports to be “the leading resource for job listings and career advice in science, technology, engineering and mathematics”, given that these incidents risk deterring people from underrepresented groups from pursuing careers in STEM, and (in the fourth case) appear to mock criticisms from the scientific community in response to these communications.

First reported on the Retraction Watch blog and then more widely on Buzzfeed, our letter asks the AAAS to “work more diligently” to avoid “harmful stereotypes” when publishing content about minorities, and recommends that its editorial staff undergo diversity training.

Please read the full letter and share widely.

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