"Feminist Glaciology": Here’s a Peer-Reviewed Science Journal Article that Didn’t Get Retracted


Want a bit of context for the story about the PLOS ONE paper that got pulled for extraneous references to “design” and a “Creator” in explicating hand biomechanics? Here’s an article published a couple of months ago by the journal Progress in Human Geography. The title: “Glaciers, gender, and science: A feminist glaciology framework for global environmental change research.”

Satire? Hoax? The Daily Caller says no:

Academics at the University of Oregon have determined that glaciers and the science that studies them are deeply sexist.

“Merging feminist postcolonial science studies and feminist political ecology, the feminist glaciology framework generates robust analysis of gender, power, and epistemologies in dynamic social-ecological systems, thereby leading to more just and equitable science and human-ice interactions,” reads the paper’s abstract.

The study, by historian Dr. Mark Carey and some student researchers, was financially supported by taxpayer dollars. The National Science Foundation (NSF) gave Carey a five-year grant which he used to write his “feminist glaciology” paper. Carey has received $709,125 in grants from the NSF, according to his curriculum vitae.

“Most existing glaciological research — and hence discourse and discussions about cryospheric change — stems from information produced by men, about men, with manly characteristics, and within masculinist discourses,” Carey wrote. “These characteristics apply to scientific disciplines beyond glaciology; there is an explicit need to uncover the role of women in the history of science and technology, while also exposing processes for excluding women from science and technology.”

Feminist…glaciology. Masculinist …glaciers. There’s nothing extraneous here about what the makes the paper objectionable. It survived peer review, funded by the National Science Foundation. No indication that Dr. Carey is Chinese and thus that faulty translation could be to blame. There have been mild complaints around the Internet:

The study shocked many academics and real scientists, and several initially believed the study was a work of satire.

“Who knew there was such a thing as ‘feminist glaciology?'” Robert Bryce, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “I can’t satirize it. The scientists do that in their own abstract.”

Cornell University chemist Dr. Phil Mason, took to Twitter Sunday to say the paper left him “dumbfounded.”

But that’s nothing like the storm of protests that greeted the PLOS ONE paper; and the “feminist glaciology” paper remains unretracted. Has the editor been asked to step down? Not that I’m aware. Imagine what you could have done with that seven hundred thousand dollars. It gives an idea of how much free time some scholars have on their hands, and the money — yours! — that’s squandered on them.

Image: Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina, by Martin St-Amant (S23678) (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

David Klinghoffer

Senior Fellow and Editor, Evolution News
David Klinghoffer is a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute and the editor of Evolution News & Science Today, the daily voice of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture, reporting on intelligent design, evolution, and the intersection of science and culture. Klinghoffer is also the author of six books, a former senior editor and literary editor at National Review magazine, and has written for the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Seattle Times, Commentary, and other publications. Born in Santa Monica, California, he graduated from Brown University in 1987 with an A.B. magna cum laude in comparative literature and religious studies. David lives near Seattle, Washington, with his wife and children.