The writer wrote it, and he is defending it in the comment thread, apparently learning nothing on the way. An editor, probably more than one, had to approve it, which meant that they found nothing wrong with it and presumably liked it better than other things they might have published in its place. And it's fiction. I didn't know that Nature published fiction, so it seems that some special exception must have been made for the brilliance of this piece. (That's sarcasm; I'm feeling like the naivete is so thick that I have to explain every little thing.)
That sequence attests to a thoroughgoing sexism, apparently invisible to all involved.
And oh yes, it was written tongue-in-cheek, ha ha, the author tells us, so it's your fault, you sourpuss feminists, if you don't get it. No humor, ha ha.
All this stuff, as the editor-in-commandant is saying, is so old, it's hard to believe that the boys at Nature aren't aware of it. I think that's a big part of my disbelief. They've been hidden away in their labs and missed the last fifty years, I guess.
Update: Oh my, I see I'm quite late to this discussion. I'm still having a hard time wrapping my mind around the idea that Nature actually published something so juvenile.
Mas: Scientific American is published by the Nature Publishing Group. But they've posted two of the best responses to Nature's idiocy, by Christie Wilcox and Janet Stemwedel. There is also a Twitter hashtag, #womenspace, for those who follow such things.
I simply could not imagine doing any better than this.
I am told, via Twitter, that this is an automated function at regender.com. I'll stick with my comments above as modified.