"Physics was invented and built by men": the controversial presentation of a scientist on the role of women in the scientific field



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CERN, in Switzerland, is one of the largest centers for scientific research in the world.

"Physics is made and built by men, not by invitation."

This sentence, delivered last week by Professor Alessandro Strumia, from the University of Pisa, in a workshop organized by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (better known under the abbreviation CERN), has taken place in the scientific community

The BBC even learned that CERN withdrew from the presentation of her professor Sumia, which was described as & # 39; very offensive & # 39 ;.

In the presentation, the academic stated that male scientists were discriminated against by ideology and that he did not realize the merit.

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Sumia was part of a workshop in Geneva that talked about gender and particle physics, in which she pointed out that "she only presents the facts".

CERN, which discovered the Higgs particle in 2012,to beator the presentation used in the chat on his website "according to a code of conduct that does not tolerate personal attacks and insults."

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The sentence

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Professor Alessandro Strumia works at the University of Pisa, Italy.

Strumia told the audience during the speech – in which a majority of the women were present – that "physics is not sexist with women."

"The truth does not matter, however, because it is part of a political struggle coming from outside," he said.

And he showed a series of graphs that, he said, show that women were hired instead of men whose research had been mentioned to a greater extent by other scientists in their publications.

He also presented information that showed that male and female researchers at the beginning of their career were considered reasonable, but that men did better as their careers progressed.

The academic pointed to various studies of human behavior that, he said, could explain the inequality.

A study, according to the professor, indicated that "men prefer to work with things and women prefer to work with people".

And he quoted a second analysis that suggested that "the difference was even small, before any social influence."

"Simplistic"

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CERN said in a statement that everyone has the same opportunities in the organization, regardless of their ethnic origin, beliefs, gender or sexual orientation, "he said.

Strumia said that these conclusions "may not be entirely correct … (but) the opposite assumption of identical brains is ideology."

As evidence of discrimination against male researchers, Professor Strumia said that "the University of Oxford is extending exam hours for women" and that "Italy offers a free or cheaper university for women (researchers)".

He also said that he himself was rejected in a job for which he was more qualified and given to a woman.

Jessica Wade, physicist at Imperial College in London and who was speaking, told the BBC that Professor Strumia's analysis was simplisticand was based on ideas that had been "discredited" a long time ago.

"It was really annoying for those of us who were in the chat," he said.

"There were young women and men who exchanged ideas and experiences about how they can encourage more women to participate in the problem and fight discrimination in their careers, and then this man stands up to say these horrible things."

In a statement, CERN, whose general manager is currently a woman, said that the organizers did not know the content of the conversation beforehand.

"CERN is a culturally diverse organization that brings people of dozens of nationalities together, it is a place where everyone is welcome, and everyone has the same opportunities, regardless of their ethnic origin, beliefs, gender or sexual orientation," he said.

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In turn, Professor Strumia said when he contacted the BBC: "People say that physics is sexist, physics is racist."

"I did some simple checks and discovered that it was not the case that it was becoming sexist against men and I said it, "he said.

Last month, Professor Jocelyn Bell Burnell told the BBC that she believed that an unconscious bias against women prevented them from getting jobs in physics research.

In 2015, Nobel laureate Tim Hunt resigned from the University College London after declaring to a public of young scientists at a conference in South Korea that the problem with girls & # 39; in the laboratories that "if you criticize them, they cry".

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