The Sciences

Look Breasts!

The IntersectionBy Sheril KirshenbaumOct 22, 2010 7:43 PM


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Recently I asked why science magazines seem to be marketed to men. On newsstands, they frequently appear alongside GQ, Esquire, Playboy, and other male-oriented content. Yes, men purchase science magazines more frequently than women, but I also think this is--at least in part--a chicken and egg problem:

What's traditionally marketed to male audiences gets purchased by them. A solution might be to change the target a bit, gear some more content to women, attract a wider audience, and--in doing so--maybe even encourage greater numbers of women to pursue the STEM areas over time. (Culture matters!)

Needless to say, I am disappointed to see Wired's latest cover choice. Here's the view from my iPhone at the Atlanta airport:

* For clarification:There is nothing wrong with breasts and the female body! Context matters and an intentionally sexually provocative cover geared toward male audiences was chosen for a magazine on S&T.

Many women in science, myself included, are already constantly bombarded with messages that science is a very much a boys club. (Have you ever given a talk only to overhear two well-respected, widely-published audience members whisper you're probably a good lay? I have.)

Our opinions on such matters are shaped by our experiences, and mine are likely extremely different from many readers. A wonderful magazine full of terrific articles that looks a lot like 'Hooters' on the cover will not encourage a lot of women to make it to the articles. They are choosing their audience, which is their decision, but when it comes to STEM, I'd like to see more influential S&T publications reaching out to appeal to more of a female audience too.

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