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Published On: Sun, Oct 28th, 2018

CERN has suspended Professor Alessandro Strumia: ‘men are being discriminated against in the STEM’

CERN has suspended Professor Alessandro Strumia for a presentation he recently gave that claimed the field of physics is not sexist toward women, but that the truth does not matter because of a “political battle” from the outside.

A recent Cornell University student that found women are preferred to men on the STEM tenure track by a ratio of 2:1.

“Physics invented and built by men, not by invitation,” one of the slides Strumia presented read.

Strumia, a physicist at Pisa University in Italy, claimed men are being discriminated against in the STEM field because of ideology, not because of merit. He delivered the presentation to a predominantly female group of physicists at CERN, a European research organization that focuses on high-energy physics research.

He also presented data he “claimed showed that male and female researchers were equally cited at the start of their careers but men scored progressively better as their careers progressed,” the BBC reports.

CERN condemned the presentation and suspended Strumia from his position in the organization shortly thereafter.

“CERN considers the presentation delivered by an invited scientist during a workshop on High Energy Theory and Gender as highly offensive,” CERN said in a Sept. 30 statement.

 

 

An updated statement, released Oct. 1, affirmed that “CERN, like many members of the community, considers that the presentation, with its attacks on individuals, was unacceptable in any professional context” and that “CERN suspended the scientist from any activity at CERN with immediate effect, pending investigation into last week’s event.”

Strumia’s comments also received massive backlash from a large group of particle physicists in the form of a letter on a site titled “Particles for Justice.”

The letter characterized Strumia’s statements as arguing “that the primary explanation for the discrepancies between men and women in theoretical physics is that women are inherently less capable.”

It then blasted Strumia’s evidence as scientifically unsound.

“He frequently made the basic error of conflating correlation with causation, and while Strumia claimed to be proving that there is no discrimination against women, his arguments were rooted in a circumscribed, biased reading of the data available, to the point of promoting a perspective that is biased against women,” the letter stated.

It also listed several specific substantive objections to Strumia’s talk, and concluded, in part, by claiming his presentation “will add to the obstacles that women and gender minorities, as well as men from traditionally underrepresented communities, struggle with on a daily basis.”

It was signed by an extensive number of scientists and researchers at various universities across the United States.

But at least one professor took to social media to defend Strumia.

“A leading physicist gave talk: male scientists are discriminated against in favor of less qualified women. Posted evidence. It was taken down. Lost his position. Other studies verify claim,” David Millard Haskell, a professor at Laurier University, tweeted in response. “If false, refute with evidence not censorship.”

The professor linked to a Cornell University news article about a study conducted by Cornell professors in 2015 about sexism in the STEM field. That is the study which found that women are preferred to men on the STEM tenure track by a ratio of 2:1.

 

The National Association of Scholars responded to an email inquiry from The Fix by clarifying that the organization focuses on the United States and also on universities, not on scientific centers.

They then criticized CERN’s suspension of Strumia.

“That said, an institution such as CERN that aspires to seek truth should be in the business of welcoming arguments that dissent from the orthodoxy of the day, not in punishing dissenters,” Chance Layton, communications coordinator for the NAS, told The Fix. “CERN may have the right to exclude Professor Strumia, but it should be chastised for doing so.”

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About the Author

- Roxanne "Butter" Bracco began with the Dispatch as Pittsburgh Correspondent, but will be providing reports and insights from Washington DC, Maryland and the surrounding region. Contact Roxie aka "Butter" at [email protected] ATTN: Roxie or Butter Bracco

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