A snapshot of institutional lack of diversity in life sciences, by way of a promotional email


That’s a fairly large missing piece: there could be at least four non-white, non-male scientists that were segregated and excised from the picture. And if so…it’s a complement, right?

It’s the final and most critical part of the whole panorama! These…are supposed to be the smart people?

Unless the ‘life sciences’ being discussed are of the ‘Pro’ or ‘Divinely Created’ type; that would make more sense I suppose…


It gets so much better: @TomReller from Elsevier defends the image by saying “You want me to apologize for the fact that more women don’t win nobel prizes? And how exactly should I fix that today?”


This picture shows a lack of sensitivity by one graphic artist working for a backward organization that has done more in recent years to impede the free flow of scientific information than just about anyone else I can think of. I don’t know a single scientist who doesn’t curse every time a paper they need is behind the Elsevier paywall.

Women now make up close to 60% of all bio and life science degree seekers, at the bachelors, masters and PhD levels. (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/06/education/edlife/where-the-women-are-biology.html?_r=0)

It’s quite obvious that Elsevier mostly wants to publish the work of scientists nearing retirement, a point they made quite well. Maybe the new best and brightest will publish somewhere open access, where their work will benefit humanity without carrying a parasite along for the ride.


Well, I do count around 14.500 missing pieces so far on thecostofknowledge.com

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Hmmm… if I’m the missing piece, and the ad is supposed to spotlight Nobel prizewinners, does this mean Elsevier thinks I ought to get a Nobel Prize? Hilarity ensues.

They want to imply that they consider the reader to be as esteemed a scientists as the Nobel Prize winners. It is plain old sucking up. Imagining a deeper message is reading way to much into the mailing.

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Yeah, and when they start winning some Nobel prizes, they’ll make the grade on Elsevier’s shitty newsletter campaign. Losers.

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I wouldn’t be so sure it was the graphic artist’s idea. More likely some exec emailed a couple of dozen of headshots to the newsletter guy and said “put these on the cover.”

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I’m guessing the same visionary who said “we want a jigsaw puzzle, but with a missing piece!”

Their next promotion will feature a globe of the world with an arrow going around it, to show how they get submissions from all around the world.


I see you’ve spent time as a hapless cog inside a soulless institutional machine too.

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You betcha!

If you think the life sciences are bad, take a look a physics

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Trade you that for any corporate HR materials that I’ve been issued over the last 25 years, in which white males appear far less frequently than they do in the actual workforce.


Well, there’s no Nobel Prize for graphic design…

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Why don’t people up their fucking journals to TPB??? The solution is: offer a piracy option.

I don’t see enough lens flare on this snark… pick up your game, guys.


Shut up and no, you are incapable of being sexually harassed.

Um, I could understand a random woman seeing this ad and being like “screw you, science isn’t only for old white guys, any woman could do it do!” Which is obviously true. But if you’re a woman or a person of color, and already in the sciences, you’d be like “Dude, these guys are the vanguard of the field, and their contributions have been seminal to the work I’m doing now. If I’m lucky one day I’ll be able to discuss my work with them and get their ideas on how to make it even better.” Because they are not some generic demographic or contingency, they are individual brilliant minds who have contributed greatly to our society. And we recognize that, and that inspires us to elevate our work and standards to continue their legacy. So um, don’t come to our defense with your half-baked outrage about lack of diversity??. “Eligibility” was never an issue, viability and access was, and those barriers have receded significantly, and if you’ve ever spent time in any graduate school, you’ll see the next generation will indeed look very different. Idiots.


I’m right there with you. Becoming a big name in a field doesn’t happen overnight, so looking at the most distinguished researchers of today is like looking at a time capsule of the incoming students of forty or fifty years.

The real question is what that picture would look like fifty years from now.

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