We find it anachronistic and bizarre that many journals, including Science, The Lancet, Cell, The New England Journal of Medicine and, until last month, Nature, provide an option for female scientists — but not male ones — to give their marital status on registration or manuscript submission. Science should keep up with or get ahead of society: terms denoting unmarried women in non-English languages, such as ‘Mademoiselle’ and ‘Fräulein’, have been banished from professional contexts in continental Europe for decades.
The plethora of honorifics for prospective authors include gender-neutral academic titles (doctor, professor), gendered non-marital titles (Mr, Ms) and, in some cases, a non-binary, non-marital title (Mx). But many influential scientific publications offer the alternatives ‘Mrs’ and ‘Miss’. Even if those terms are intended for use only as a courteous salutation in exchanges with the author, linguistic associations can still shape people’s implicit judgements (M. Lewis and G. Lupyan Nature Hum. Behav. 4, 1021–1028; 2020).
In our view, marital status, and nomenclature associating a woman’s name with it, has no place in this context, in the scientific community or in the current century.