Is physics sexist against women?
Professor Alessandro Strumia, of Pisa University, argues to the contrary. At a presentation in Geneva, in front of mainly female physicists, Strumia offered evidence that showed, if anything, that it is men who are being discriminated against.
Specifically, he compared male and female hirings to male and female scientific citations. Being cited for one’s work is the academic gold standard, the main test scientists have for quality of work. Strumia found a pattern of women being hired over men who had higher citations rates.
Now, Alessandro Strumia is not a social scientist, and this explanation — like any scientific work — is open to criticism.
But was scientific debate the notable reaction to his presentation?
No. He was “suspended with immediate effect” from his job at CERN, Europe’s premiere nuclear science research facility.
Some folks were obviously offended — perhaps most with his characterization of physics as having been “invented and built by men.” That is true but not directly relevant to the issue. His higher-ups at CERN called his statements “unacceptable,” and insisted, perhaps with a slight tone of panic, that the nuclear science research center “always strives to carry out its scientific mission in a peaceful and inclusive environment.”
The outfit’s official statement did not mention Strumia’s name, but instead referred to “the scientist” and cited his talk for its “attacks on individuals.”
Really? Or merely an attack on an explanation that some individuals found . . . heretical?
Strumia himself offers the perfect characterization of the mini-scandal: “the truth does not matter, because it is part of a political battle coming from outside.”
Merely by suspending him and undertaking an “investigation,” has not CERN proved his point?
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.
Illustration: The Large Hadron Collider/ATLAS at CERN