Laura Ashburn destroys sexist New York Times obituary of female rocket scientist

By Eric W. Dolan
Monday, April 1, 2013 19:05 EDT
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Daily Download editor-in-chief Laura Ashburn on Monday slammed the New York Times’ obituary of female rocket scientist Yvonne Brill.

Brill was instrumental in the development of propulsion systems for satellites, but the opening line of her obituary emphasized her cooking skills rather than her stunning scientific achievements.

“I have never seen a more sexist obituary in my life than the one that was in the New York Times on Sunday,” she remarked. “This women, who was 88-years-old, died — world-class rocket scientist and the opening was, ‘she made a mean beef stroganoff’… I mean, no male obituary would start like that.”

CNN host and Daily Download contributor Howard Kurtz noted the New York Times made slight changes to the online version of the obituary following a public outcry. The first sentence of the article now acknowledges Brill was a “brilliant rocket scientist.”

“You can blame the obituary writers, I blame the editors,” Kurtz said. “This is a woman, Yvonne Brill, who got a presidential medal from President Obama for technology and innovation, and the lede is beef stroganoff. That is just wrong.”

Ashburn and Kurtz concurred that the New York Times blew it. They were not alone in their assessment. A number of publications — including BuzzFeed, Jezebel, The New Yorker, and the Washington Post — published articles critical of the obituary.

Watch video, uploaded to YouTube, below:

Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan has served as an editor for Raw Story since August 2010, and is based out of Sacramento, California. He grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and received a Bachelor of Science from Bradley University. Eric is also the publisher and editor of PsyPost. You can follow him on Twitter @ewdolan.
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