A regrettable voice from the past . . .

The End of Sexism in Publishing?

by Conrad Weisert
December 10, 2009
© 2009 Information Disciplines, Inc.

This article may be circulated freely as long as the copyright notice is included.

What's unusual about this paragraph from the back cover of a 1972 book1?


J. Van Duyn is publications consultant and instructor in technical writing at West and DeAnza Evening Colleges in California. The author is also editor of the San Francisco bay area ACM chapter montnly journal. Previously the author was supervisor of publications at the Stanford University Computation Center, Stanford Research Institute Computer Center and Wellsco Data Corporation in San Francisco. J. Van Duyn has published previously in many journals and is a member of ACM, both national and local.

Even by the standards of 1972 readers were startled by the absence of pronouns. Nor is the author's given name stated. The result is rather stilted prose, but what's more disturbing is that the publisher was obviously trying to conceal Julia Van Duyn's sex. Presumbly the publisher thought that fewer people would buy a professional book if they knew it had been written by a woman.

(It was an awful book, anyway.)

Today's I.T. professionals can be thankful that such misguided sexism is no longer practiced and would not be tolerated by a reputable publisher or by the marketplace. The 1972 example may be a source of historical amusement, but it represents deplorable bias.

1—J. Van Duyn: Documentation Manual, 1972, Auerback Publishers, ISBN 0-87769-117-7, 158 pages.

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Last modified December 10, 2009