Megan Head and Fiona Ingleby submitted a research paper to the journal PLOS ONE. The paper explored the postdoc positions offered to PhD graduates in the life sciences. It specifically focused on whether sexism affected the positions offered to female graduates. The journal rejected the paper, however, on the grounds that “the qulaity [sic] of the manuscript is por [sic] issues on methodologies and presentation of resulst [sic]”.
Setting the irony of that statement aside, the controversy erupted when the researchers published excerpts from the review online:
The reviewer makes objections to the way that the researchers interpreted the results of a survey of 244 people with a PhD in biology, which the authors use to conclude there is gender bias in academia.
In offering an alternative interpretation of the data, the reviewer says: “It could perhaps be the case that 99% of female scientists make a decision in mid-life that spending more time with their children is more important to them than doing everything imaginable to try to get one of the rare positions at the utter pinnacle of their field.”
The reviewer goes on: “Or perhaps it is the case that only some small portion of men (and only men) have the kind of egomaniac personality disorder that drives them on to try to become the chief of the world at the expense of all else in life.”