Did the New York Times ask a female scientist about marital status instead of science?

Did the New York Times ask a female scientist about marital status instead of science? August 13, 2014

In an episode last month of Star Talk Radio host Neil deGrasse Tyson was speaking to Carolyn Porco, the head of the imaging team for the Cassini mission to Saturn, about a interview she did with the New York Times:

“[The reporter] submits it to her editors and they come back and say, ‘Find out why Porco’s not married,’” she told Tyson, “I said to her, ‘See? I told you so. I knew this kind of thing was going to happen,’ because I knew they would be very sexist.”

The article, which ran in 1999, was upsetting to Porco because the editors didn’t want to focus on her work, they wanted to focus on her sex, and more importantly it seemed, her sex life.

Frustrated she offered them two possible responses, “The first answer was something like, ‘Just tell them I have a different man every night and I like it that way,’” Porco said. “And then the other answer was, ‘There are no high-maintenance items in my house of any kind — pets, plants, or husbands.’”

They ended up running the second suggestion and in the end the story was at least a partial success as Porco did receive a good amount of encouraging fan mail from parents of girls who were inspired to go into science.

What is so daunting about this story is that in the 15 years since the story ran, this still seems to be what editors want out of stories about women in science. They don’t want to focus on why women often seem unwelcome or how and why they are treated differently; they want to focus on the love lives of these women.

You can listen to the full episode of Star Talk Radio below.

(h/t Raw Story)

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