But Dawkins, are 100% of science writers men?

I must say that I was startled to read this recent post by my friend and terrific blogger Miffedy Plaster, who pointed out something interesting:

I was perusing the oeuvre of one Richard Dawkins the other day, and it wasn’t long before I noticed that all of his books were written by men.  Now I had heard rumors of this before, but I was bowled over to discover that among all ten of his books, none were written by women. Not one! Nada! To put it in mathematical terms, that is precisely zero percent. Since women are roughly half of the population, I think this says something statistically—and socially—significant.

Now among all the people who could have written his books, would it have been too much trouble to find somebody with two X chromosomes?  I mean, it’s not as if there aren’t women writing science books.  And talk about your patriarchy: just look at the titlesThe Extended Phenotype?  Give me a break.  It’s not too hard to guess what part of Dawkins’ “phenotype” is “extended” here!  Along the same lines, River Out of Eden conjures up images too graphic to discuss.  I detect more than a touch of the phallocentric here.

Now while I’ve never actually read any of Dawkins’s books (I’ve heard some people praise The Selfish Gene), I did check Amazon and found, indeed, that Miffedy is on to something.  We clearly have some work to do.

What do readers think?

74 Comments

  1. Posted April 1, 2011 at 4:53 am | Permalink

    It’s outrageous! I vow never to read Dawkins again until he at least sets himself a target that 50% of his future output is by a woman. Just to prove I’m not a hypocrit, I promise here and now that all of my future comments will be half female as well.
    Happy April 1st

  2. debeuk
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 4:56 am | Permalink

    I suggest he rename his 2004 book to “The Ancestress’ Tale”.

  3. Vonette
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 4:58 am | Permalink

    Dawkins is a terrific writer. I (female) have read all his books. Who cares about the rest. I don’t, even not on april 1st.

  4. Posted April 1, 2011 at 5:04 am | Permalink

    The very title of The Selfish Gene tell us all we need to know of Mr. Dawkins.

    • locutus7
      Posted April 1, 2011 at 5:26 am | Permalink

      Well, he should just keep his Selfish Jeans on! His books are also all written by a heterosexual white male. That perpetuates the straight white male dominance of the social paradigm.

      But wait, there’s more. All of his books are written by a human. That is specie-ism pure and simple.

  5. Posted April 1, 2011 at 5:04 am | Permalink

    By the way, don’t whatever you do read Dawkins. He writes in a very concise and rational way about EVILOOTION. You might end up believing it’s true and going to hell.
    Just sayin’

  6. Antony McCarthy
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 5:04 am | Permalink

    This doesn’t surprise me at all. I once heard that Dawkins said something favorable about Ann Coulter, who is clearly an anti-feminist. Well, maybe it was Michael Bolton, but the point stands.

  7. Felix
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 5:07 am | Permalink

    It is shocking. I believe that Dan Dennett’s books are the same, although he did make a token gesture towards women in his essay Thank GoodnESS

    • Adam M.
      Posted April 1, 2011 at 5:17 am | Permalink

      But notice nobody’s complaining about him! A double standard? Or maybe it’s because he’s such a nice guy. Clearly the way to public acceptance of science is to stop being such a damned strident brick in the wall of the entrenched, oppressive patriarchy.

  8. Posted April 1, 2011 at 5:07 am | Permalink

    That was hilarious! :)

    What’s the url to Miffedy Plaster’s blog? The link in the article goes to the Urban Dictionary’s definition for ‘rant’, and I can’t find it in a google search either. It sounds like a blog I’d like to follow.

    • Polly-O!
      Posted April 1, 2011 at 5:17 am | Permalink

      I love Miffedy, who blogs at I Blame the Patriarchy, regularly calling phallocentric male scientists to their proper account. For another great criticism of Dawkins, see this:

      http://blog.iblamethepatriarchy.com/2011/03/19/spinster-aunt-reads-comment-on-dawkins-website-wrinkles-lip/

      • PBilbo-O!
        Posted April 1, 2011 at 5:27 am | Permalink

        I agree with Polly-O!

      • Posted April 1, 2011 at 9:03 am | Permalink

        What? You mean the author was serious about thinking that Dawkins’ own books should have been written by women half the time?

        Maybe I’m reading this wrong. I thought it was a parody where the joke was that no one is able to pen a book in their own name and also be of the opposite sex half the time.

        Maybe she was criticizing his bookshelf collection of other authors’ books or something. I should probably have read the original article before commenting. I’ll go do that now. :)

        • Posted April 1, 2011 at 9:19 am | Permalink

          Can’t find the bookshelf article, but the blog itself is one I’m going to follow for laughs.

          I’m quite strongly against sexism, but the crazy, reversed sexist, and overly sensitive to the point of paranoia extreme, is almost too ironic and insane for words. Almost. :)

          • Posted April 1, 2011 at 9:28 am | Permalink

            Groan… I got April Fooled, didn’t I? It just dawned on me. :)

  9. Posted April 1, 2011 at 5:08 am | Permalink

    I, for one, think that the sooner Mr Dawkins is willing to submit to an x chromosome retrovirus, the sooner we in the evolutionary community can all put this terrible injustice behind us.

    • Posted April 1, 2011 at 6:20 am | Permalink

      I pretty much agree with Sean.

    • lamacher
      Posted April 1, 2011 at 6:41 am | Permalink

      Why won’t he show us his birth certificate? Just saying’.

      • Stewart
        Posted April 1, 2011 at 11:31 am | Permalink

        You think he was actually born in Hawaii and not Kenya?

        • satan augustine
          Posted April 1, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

          Awesome!

  10. Dominic
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 5:11 am | Permalink

    Working in a library as I do, I think he should have written on the Shelfish Gene. Perhaps that is one ‘l’ short of malacological…

  11. Vic van Lijf
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 5:16 am | Permalink

    Whoever than HE, the author, could have written HIS books?

    • Yngve B
      Posted April 1, 2011 at 5:27 am | Permalink

      img37.imageshack.us/img37/8648/captainobviousy.jpg

    • Posted April 1, 2011 at 5:46 am | Permalink

      Male ghostwriters?

    • sasqwatch
      Posted April 1, 2011 at 7:52 am | Permalink

      I was going to say that he really needs to get himself a bunch of female ghostwriters to balance things out. Seems like a good place to hang this comment.

    • Sili
      Posted April 1, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

      No need got the capitals; he’s not God.

      (At least not quite … yet.)

  12. Dominic
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 5:40 am | Permalink

    If RD were a lady she would surely have written the Sylphish Gene?! :)

    • Filippo
      Posted April 1, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      Or the Shellfish Jean?

      • Dominic
        Posted April 1, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

        Oops – did that – sort of – above at 10… let’s settle for Sylphish Jean! ;)

  13. JBlilie
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 5:43 am | Permalink

    I have discovered that Richard Dawkins has coverted to fundamentalist Islam — this is why all his books are written by men!

  14. Posted April 1, 2011 at 5:54 am | Permalink

    Now why didn’t Stangroom single out that assault by Dawkins on half of the human population when he went out looking for gnu assholitude? At least Stangroom had the sense, decency, and civility to have a woman write some of his books!

    • Diane G.
      Posted April 2, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      Oooh–good one.

  15. Posted April 1, 2011 at 6:08 am | Permalink

    Perhaps the lady is chauvinistic. Perhaps she jumped to a conclusion instead of going to the source and inquiring first.

  16. Posted April 1, 2011 at 6:19 am | Permalink

    You got me hook, line and sinker….
    I was all indignant and thinking (as far as science books go) about Lisa Ranall ….

    :)

  17. stvs
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    There was an interview with Al Franken where he was asked about the low number of black comedians on SNL. Franken, hilariously, said it was because black people aren’t funny. So RD has one possible response at-the-ready.

    Not having read the thread yet, I’m sure people have cited Sylvia Nasar, Dava Sobel, etc.

    I think it took special guts in Nasar’s case to write about the difficult story of Nash. To us, Nash was a name that went with fundamental theorems and a tragic ghost story. Nasar did an amazing job combining these two threads in a popularly appealing and worthwhile book.

  18. Posted April 1, 2011 at 6:38 am | Permalink

    I was perusing the oeuvre of one Richard Dawkins the other day, and it wasn’t long before I noticed that all of his books were written by men.

    How is this surprising? The man is the direct descendent of countless numbers of rapists, cannibals, egg-eaters, and all sorts of other manner of heinous criminals. Why, I have good reason to believe that the overwhelming majority of his ancestors weren’t even human!

    What else would you expect from fish spawn such as him?

    Cheers,

    b&

    • Felix
      Posted April 1, 2011 at 7:07 am | Permalink

      Excellent!

    • lamacher
      Posted April 1, 2011 at 7:22 am | Permalink

      I award Ben the ‘internet’ for the day!

    • gk4c4
      Posted April 1, 2011 at 10:02 am | Permalink

      Most of his ancestors are “not-even-human” .. very funny .. haw haw haw .. this deserve a JesusandMo comic!

    • Grendels Dad
      Posted April 1, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

      Now Ben, egg-eating is not a crime. Unless he opens it from the small end. He doesn’t do that does he, he couldn’t. Only a monster could even consider it.

    • Posted April 2, 2011 at 2:09 am | Permalink

      Yes, but approximately half his ancestors were female, and I can prove that he is directly descended from Mitochondrial Eve!

  19. Posted April 1, 2011 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    “I was perusing the oeuvre of one Richard Dawkins the other day, and it wasn’t long before I noticed that all of his books were written by men.”

    Wait! How does this person know that all the authors were men? Just because the name “Richard” is commonly given to men? Just because pictures of the supposed “Richard Dawkins” look like a man? I’ve prayed on this long and hard and God told me that Richard is a hermaphrodite. I can’t point to any evidence other than personal revelation–God told me this directly during an especially vivid dream one night (I’m too embarrassed to reveal any other details from the dream). Therefore this accusation has no grounds. Richard/Regina (as he’s known when he cross-dresses) Dawkins has written half his books as a man and the other half as a woman, but for consistency uses just the one name.

    • msobel
      Posted April 1, 2011 at 7:09 am | Permalink

      You silly person. The name Richard is a giveaway. Now if it were HooHoo Dawkins, it might be a superfugue.

      So he is a white male but at least he isn’t a Christian, so if he blows up a building, he could be a terrorist.

    • sasqwatch
      Posted April 1, 2011 at 7:58 am | Permalink

      The striking resemblance between RD and Emma Watson is too great to ignore. How do we know, indeed?

      • Dominic
        Posted April 1, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

        Yes – I have never seen the two of them in the same place together! Hmmmm…

  20. daveau
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    What’s worse; 100% of all the books I’ve ever read in my life were read by a male. I am so ashamed.

    • daveau
      Posted April 1, 2011 at 6:54 am | Permalink

      A white male. (hangs head…)

      • gk4c4
        Posted April 1, 2011 at 10:03 am | Permalink

        Even worse, your whiteness malefullness is commented by another male!
        Oh humanities …

      • Posted April 1, 2011 at 10:57 am | Permalink

        A white male whose neighbor can fit only one car in his garage! Phallogocentrism at its worst.

  21. Ben Breuer
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    … and it’s not like in this modern day and age nothing could be done about this condition!

    *huff*

    [Is it April 1st in Chicago, too?]

    • Ben Breuer
      Posted April 1, 2011 at 7:23 am | Permalink

      And what exactly did you have in mind with “some work” to be done?

  22. Stu
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    the horrible secret exposed:

    http://maquaii.deviantart.com/journal/36273040/

    • Sigmund
      Posted April 1, 2011 at 7:35 am | Permalink

      You’ve just spoilt the surprize ending to the final Harry Potter movie! :(

      • Dominic
        Posted April 1, 2011 at 8:51 am | Permalink

        Harry Potter and the Templeton Prize…

      • Posted April 1, 2011 at 10:07 am | Permalink

        Faitheists = Death Eaters

        Tom Johnson = Tom Riddle = Lord Voldemort

        and for a long while, “He who must not be named” until Ophelia/Dennett broke the spell.

        It all makes sense now!

  23. Matt G
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    Well, if he has a sex reassignment procedure performed toot sweet, he might be able to write enough books before he dies to achieve the desired balance.

  24. Paul Spence
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    My god. I just checked, all the Harry Potter books were written by a women. How awful. The next one should be written by a man and if not we should boycott Mr Potters stories

    • bric
      Posted April 1, 2011 at 8:43 am | Permalink

      . . . and why not Ms Potter hmmmmm?

    • lamacher
      Posted April 1, 2011 at 8:44 am | Permalink

      Right!! That explains the sort of science taught at Hogwood!

    • Dominic
      Posted April 1, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

      They should have been called Hairy Porter books after the character portrayed by Robbie Coltrane.

  25. sasqwatch
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    Dawkins porn titles.

    The Ancestor’s Tail.

    Undressing the Rainbow.

    The Sveltish Jeans.

    Mounting Prime Unpoppable.

    • Filippo
      Posted April 1, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

      The Greatest Ho on Earth?

      The Extended Penile Type?

      • Posted April 2, 2011 at 2:08 am | Permalink

        You’ve given me some good ideas!

  26. Kevin
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    Well, he could have a gender-reassignment surgery, and then the problem will be solved!

    Of course, another answer to the question is “how do you know?” Did you watch the male Richard Dawkins write all of his books? He could have had female ghost writers participating in the process.

    I say we need an investigation!

    BTW: did you know that the origin of April Fool’s Day was due to the change of the calendar. The pope decided that the first day of the year — which HAD been on April 1 — would be moved to January 1. Those who continued in the practice of celebrating the new year 4 months after the pope said so where declared “April Fools”.

    True, non-foolish story.

  27. 3cat
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Dr. Tatiana is no fool.

  28. Sastra
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    Every time Richard Dawkins sits on a panel, you’ll note that his added presence helps skew the number of men relative to the number of women. Never the other way around.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted April 1, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

      The man can’t help himself.

  29. madamX
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    I too have not read The Selfish Gene but I hear that the prestigious philospher Mary Midgley (who does her best to correct dangerous scientific misconstructions) thinks the argument is flawed and probably just a manifestation of Dawkins’s own male ego’s projection of competition worship. Don’t bother reading it and spread the word!

  30. Posted April 2, 2011 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    My bad for reading “oeuvre” and assuming I understood its meaning because of its context. Fooled


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