Plenary: Sexism in Science Journalism

Two high profile incidents of sexism and science writing in the United States recently sent shockwaves through the profession. An online editor called one black scientist and blogger an “urban whore” after she enquired if there would be a payment for her requested services, while the ‘blogfather’, Bora Zivkovic, was forced to admit to requesting sex from young science journalists in return for a career break, resulting in his resignation as blog editor for Scientific American.

The affairs resonated across the Atlantic, with many female science journalists both in the UK and the US writing about their experiences of sexism for the first time.

This session will explore if science is simply representative of journalism as a whole or whether it’s a special case. It will explore how to deal with the issue as well as suggesting the possibility of a sexism manifesto to encourage better reporting on women scientists.

The ABSW will also release the results of a survey on sexism encountered in science journalism by its members.


Sue Nelson, Boffin Media, is a lifelong feminist and upset Dara O’Briain by writing in the Daily Telegraph that TV science was filled with too many Top Gear science style programmes fronted by male comedians that alienated both women viewers and guests. @sciencenelson


Michelle Stanistreet, General Secretary, National Union of Journalists (NUJ)

Priya Shetty, global health journalist, has established @SexismInScience

Joan Haran, Freelance Researcher. Research includes media representations - or the lack thereof - of women in science, engineering and technology.

Session Video

Session Audio

Download the recording here.

Session Review

Fiona Muir asks whether gender equality in science journalism has taken a step back in the 21st Century. James Riley questions whether egalitarian ideals in science (journalism) can exist when sexism appears to be such a problem, while Sumaya Anwar looks at the details of an ABSW-led study into sexism in science journalism.