Sexism in IT / Scientific American
Unpublished Letter to the Editor

From: "Jennifer J. Freyd" <>
Date: June 2, 2008 9:24:39 AM EDT
To: <>
Subject: sexism in IT article/ June 2008

The significant lack of women in computer science and information technology is a recognized problem.  Indeed, the "digital-divide" refers to a gender inequity that is even greater in computer science than it is in math and the other sciences.  It is perhaps therefore not entirely surprising that your June 2008 article "Digital Image Forensics" uses a large photo of female model next to a male model and later refers to her jarringly as "a girl" and him as "a man" (page 71).  Again perhaps not surprisingly, while the photo is purportedly of serious bikers in full gear, the female rider has her long hair out and lose, marking her as a not serious athlete next to a group of serious male athletes.  Is this image selection for any honest intellectual or educational purpose or is it simply to entertain your readers with another "pretty girl" picture?  On page 69 of the same article you have found an excuse to display the uncovered legs of a TV star sitting next to three men with covered legs.  Of all the images you could have selected to illustrate your technical points, you selected these. What does this all matter? Imagine a high school  or college age female student interested in computer science reading this article and seeing the women used for their physical attractiveness and then reading one is referred to as "girl" and then ask yourself why young women might just not feel computer science will be a field in which they are likely to be taken seriously as scientists.  

Jennifer Freyd

Jennifer J. Freyd, Ph.D.
Editor, Journal of Trauma & Dissociation
Department of Psychology 
1227 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403-1227

lab: 541.346.4950
fax: 541.346.4911
JTD email:



From: Aaron Shattuck []
Sent: Monday, June 09, 2008 3:02 PM
Subject: Re: sexism in IT article/ June 2008

Thank you for taking the time to write to us at SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN. Please forgive the impersonality of this acknowledgement, but the volume of mail that we receive makes it impossible to respond to every letter individually. However, we want to assure you that we do read all of the letters receive, and we try to answer all requests and inquiries as rapidly as possible. Thank you for your patience.



Jennifer Freyd Last update 30 July 2008
Please note: Due to the large volume of correspondence I receive, I cannot answer most messages.
Copyright © 2008 Jennifer J. Freyd.
Return to Jennifer J. Freyd home page