Prof Alessandro Strumia called highly offensive after claiming male scientists are discriminated against
Profe Alessandro Strumia of Pisa University claimed during a seminar on gender issues in physics that male scientists were being discriminated against because of ideology.
He told the audience, mostly comprising female physicists, that female researchers in Italy tended to benefit from either free or cheaper university education, while Oxford University in England extends exam times for womens benefit.
Read more Strumia defended his comments, telling the Guardian that his detractors were trying to paint me as a monster who discriminates against women and that his presentation of facts was in response to statements made about men discriminating against women.
He said datashowed male and female scientists were equally cited in presentations, and that women were favoured when it came to hiring. This is not the message they wanted [to hear] at this conference, he said.
Strumia, who regularly works at Cern, said claims by a participant at the event that the sphere of physics was second only to the military for sexual abuse were totally absurd.
He said: These people are so worried about problems that dont exist. What I actually said has good purpose. We are not discriminating, women have been helped for years.
Cern, whose director general is the Italian physicist Fabiola Gianotti, described Strumias presentation as highly offensive and removed the slides used in his talk from its website.
It said: The organisers from Cern and several collaborating universities were not aware of the content of the talk prior to the workshop. Diversity is a strong reality at Cern and is also one of the core values underpinning our code of conduct. The organisation is fully committed to promoting diversity and equality at all levels.
However, the slideshow was circulated online, with one sentence saying that prominent female physicists, such as Marie Curie, were welcomed only after showing what they can do, got Nobels…
Strumia claimed he had been overlooked for a role in favour of a woman and that anyone who spoke out was attacked, censored or risked losing their job. I like physics and science because everyone can do what they want. I dont like it when theres social engineering to decide how many men, women and categories there should be, he said.
Dr Jessica Wade, a physicist from Imperial College London who attended the event, told the BBC that Strumias presentation was really upsetting to those at the workshop and his analysis was simplistic and drew on ideas that had long been discredited.
Profe Anne-Christine Davis of Cambridge University, who was in Geneva for the event but left a day before his presentation, said: His comments were absolutely outrageous. They are the sort of comments that people may have made decades ago but, coming in this day and age, I just dont know what planet he lives on.
Davis said theres an unconscious bias going on all the time, and that women often lose out on roles.
In response to his comments on sexual harassment, Davis, who was a victim of it at the early stage of her career, said: Hes clearly someone whos never been on the receiving end of sexual harassment, but actually quite a lot of female physicists have been.
Gianotti became the first woman to hold the five-year mandate as director general of Cern in 2016. She said in an interview earlier this year that fundamental sciences are still male dominated, but that she never personally felt discrimination.
However, Gianotti, who led Atlas, one of Cerns two main detector projects that pinpointed the Higgs Boson particle, added that while her role demonstrated there is no prejudice against women in those positions, some of my female colleagues had a much harder time than I did.
It is difficult to know where would be a good place to argue that women are naturally less good at physics. But its easy to know where would not: a meeting of largely women physicists, specifically convened to discuss the problem of gender and physics.
Yet it was at just such a meeting, in Cern, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research in Geneva, where Alessandro Strumia, professor of physics at the University of Pisa, decided to make his stand. He proclaimed that physics was invented and built by men, its not by invitation, yet because of cultural Marxism we are indoctrinated into ideology to the contrary.
Yesterday, he was dealing with the fallout of a speech that Cern itself described as highly offensive and that…