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Scientific American dustup over blogger being called ‘urban whore’ after rejecting request for unpaid work

By George Chidi
Saturday, October 12, 2013 21:11 EDT
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Danielle N. Lee, Ph.D.
 
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Scientific American’s blog network drew controversy Friday after removing a complaint about mistreatment posted by one of its scientific bloggers.

Danielle N. Lee, Ph.D., rejected a request for unpaid writing by Biology-Online.org, a partner site of Scientific American, notes Wired Magazine writer Maryn McKenna. In an emailed response, a Biology-Online.org editor wrote, “Are you an urban scientist or an urban whore?”

Lee, a postdoctoral research associate at Oklahoma State University and an African-American biologist who writes about diversity issues in the scientific community, noted the exchange Friday on her Scientific American blog.

“My initial reaction was not civil, I can assure you. I’m far from rah-rah, but the inner South Memphis in me was spoiling for a fight after this unprovoked insult,” she wrote in the post, which was archived on other sites. “I felt like Hollywood Cole, pulling my A-line T-shirt off over my head, walking wide leg from corner to corner yelling, ‘Aww hell nawl!’ In my gut I felt so passionately: ‘Ofek, don’t let me catch you on these streets, homie!’”

Editors on the site subsequently removed the post without warning. “@sciam is a publication for discovering science,” Scientific American editor Mariette DiChristina said in a Twitter post as public reaction began to mount Saturday morning. “The post was not appropriate for this area & was therefore removed.”

Other bloggers in the scientific community have been rallying to her defense over the incident, under the Twitter hashtag #standingwithdnlee and in subsequent commentary.

“We are given full editorial control in our contracts. I could literally post only cat pics if I wanted,” Tweeted Melanie Tannenbaum, a doctoral candidate in social psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Scientific American blogger.

Watch Lee’s formal response to this below.

 
 
 
 
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