Emily Willingham is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Double X Science ( www.doublexscience.org), which focuses on science stories for a female audience. Follow her on Twitter: @ejwillingham. Questions and answers have been edited.
Q: How did the site get its start?
In the fall of 2011, there was a big discussion online about science in women’s magazines. I looked at the sites for the big women’s magazines and the big blog sites that target women and found almost no emphasis on science.
The closest thing I found were things like health. I thought that was kind of odd, because not only am I a science writer, but I’m a mother and I know a lot of mothers who aren’t scientists.
Almost invariably when I would go out with them socially they would say, “Tell me something really cool and science-y.”
The second aspect was that we started hearing that in a lot of magazines that target women, writers would submit things that had a lot of evidence-based information, then some of the magazines would try to edit the articles toward what advertisers would want to see.
At least in one case, a writer cited that the editor wanted her to change a quote, which is totally inappropriate.
I can’t say this applies to all magazines, but there was an interesting consensus that there’s pressure from advertisers, either real or perceived, to shape a story. It may also be that your editor says, “Write me a story saying why high heels might be good for you.”
That’s not really an evidence-based angle, but I guess that’s considered potentially of appeal to an audience that might wear high heels a lot, so that’s why an editor did that.
That’s not how we would operate.
We’d say, “Look into high heels. What do they do to you?” And we would present the evidence of high heels, negative and positive.
So our mission at Double X Science is to bring evidence-based science of interest to women.
Q: What differentiates your stories from those targeted toward a general audience?
Anything we cover has to be something of interest to a general audience of women -- not women who are scientists but women who would be interested in these insights because of some aspect of identifying as a woman.
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