When I first started noticing the opportunity to submit a "Graphical Abstract" for my papers I was initially perplexed as to why I would bother. Then I realized that the Graphical Abstract (at Elsevier titles anyway) could be a way to get the primary data figure out in front of the paywall. So I thought maybe we should do that.
Some joker has apparently concluded that he should use the Graphical Abstract space for being a sexist jerk.
Hur, hur, dudes, hur, de-hur, de-hur.
As detailed by Dr. Zen, Pier Giorgio Righetti is an author on at least four articles with highly sexualized Graphical Abstracts. Professor Righetti apparently responded to a query about the wisdom of one of these images with:
I wonder if you have been trained in the Vatican. As you claim to be a professor of Physiology, let me alert you that this image is physiology at its best!
This sounds remarkably like Dario Mastripieri who famously lamented the lack of attractive "super-model type" women at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience on his Facebook page. This sexualization of women in a professional scientific and/or academic context has to stop. This is harassment of women in science. It lets all women in this job sector know that these dudes, senior figures with some influence mind you, see them as nothing other than potential sexual conquests. It is unfair, it is rude, it is detrimental to science and it is utterly unacceptable.
Professor Righetti is on the Editorial Board of several journals, including the offending Journal of Proteomics where he is listed as the expert under the heading of "Proteomics of Body Fluids and Proteomic Technologies". Eww. And it gets better. @Drew_lab queried the Journal's EIC Juan Calvete and received a dispiriting response.
— Joshua Drew (@Drew_Lab) March 21, 2014
At least it wasn't a complete brush off such as Professor Righetti gave. But it isn't a whole lot better.
I hope to settle the case as soon as possible to devote to the lab, which is what should take me up most of the day.
...this translates in my ear to "this is some absolute triviality and sure, sure, we'll take down the images but really don't you people have better things to worry about?"
Not really, no. The EIC Calvete has himself identified why this is the case. All scientists would prefer to use their time and energy in ways that are devoted to lab business. Unfortunately, reality intervenes. And when male scientists are hitting on, slavering over, disrespecting, leering at, joking about and generally treating female scientists as property, this takes away from the energy the women (and indeed other men who have to witness this crap) have available to devote to science.
So what would really be great is if an EIC like Calvete identified this sort of inappropriate image (hint: it IS inappropriate, not "may be inappropriate") in advance and prevented it from being published in the first place. It would be great if authors such as Righetti avoiding submitting these things. It would be great if Professors like Mastripieri kept their nasty little observations locked up tight inside their own heads.
Now go read Isis' post. Reason #140 Why Sexist Bullshit in Academia is Not Okay