A book called Life: The Leading Edge of Evolutionary Biology, Genetics, Anthropology, and Environmental Science came out just over a week ago. And among my Facebook and Twitter feeds, people are very, very not happy with it:
Yes, a book with 23 different contributors to 18 different essays on the wondrous diversity and evolution of human life on this planet... does not include one woman or one person of color. It's a veritable petri dish of white dudes in a field that, sure, includes lots of white dudes, but includes plenty of diversity, especially on the anthropology side of things.Hey, @edge, could you really not find even one woman to write about evolution? This is unacceptable in 2016. https://t.co/2Cx8B8ScwP— Jacquelyn Gill (@JacquelynGill) May 25, 2016
Given the fact that the book appears to be a collection of essays and interviews from a website called Edge.org, I do wonder if that strongly influenced who was included in this volume. After all, women are less likely to put themselves out there on the internet because of gender-based trolling (more like name-calling, questioning their expertise, and death and rape threats). And as women are still less likely to be tenured professors, it may be that the male heavy-hitters in this volume are at a stage in their career where they can risk writing for or being interviewed for a website.
Or maybe it's just old-fashioned sexism? According to a 2012 profile of John Brockman at The Guardian, "the roll call of current and deceased members of the Edge salon runs to 660. It's a predominately male crowd, with women accounting for only 16.5% of the members." Ouch.
Anyway, as is my typical response to this, I mostly just want to snark on the table of contents... who wants to help? Here's the TOC and a couple of my own suggestions below. Post yours in the comments! Or heck, check out the Amazon comments and add your own there.
Real Contents (from Edge.org):
- Evolvability by Richard Dawkins
- Genomic Imprinting by David Haig
- A Full-Force Storm with Gale Winds Blowing by Robert Trivers
- What Evolution Is by Ernst Mayr
- Genetics Plus Time by Steve Jones
- A United Biology by E.O. Wilson
- Is Life Analog or Digital? by Freeman Dyson
- Life: What a Concept! by Freeman Dyson, J. Craig Venter, George Church, Dimitar Sasselov, Seth Lloyd, and Robert Shapiro
- The Gene-Centric View: A Conversation by Richard Dawkins and J. Craig Venter
- The Nature of Normal Human Variety by Armand Marie Leroi
- Brains Plus Brawn by Daniel Lieberman
- Mapping the Neanderthal Genome by Svate Pääbo
- On Biocomputation by J. Craig Venter, Ray Kurzweil, and Rodney Brooks
- Engineering Biology by Drew Endy
- Eat Me Before I Eat You: A New Foe for Bad Bugs by Kary Mullis
- Duck Sex and Aesthetic Evolution by Richard Prum
- Toxo by Robert Sapolsky
- The Adjacent Possible by Stuart Kauffman (with an introduction by John Brockman)
Oh, and if you are a woman doing research in human biology, broadly conceived, consider adding yourself to this list, so at least the next editor will have binders full of women to contact: http://tinyurl.com/womeninevolution.