Skip to Content

CERN. Wikipedia

CERN suspends top scientist after he says physics was invented by men

An Italian scientist has been suspended by one of the world's top leading nuclear research centres because he said "physics was invented and built by men" who are now being discriminated against.

Published: October 2, 2018, 9:04 am

    In his presentation Professor Alessandro Strumia said male scientists rather than female scientists were suffering from discrimination based on ideology rather than merit. He said physics was “invented and built by men, it’s not by invitation”.

    According to Strumia, he had been overlooked for a position in favour of a female applicant. He said anyone who spoke out against this discrimination has been attacked, censored or risked losing their job. “I like physics and science because everyone can do what they want. I don’t like it when there’s social engineering to decide how many men, women and categories there should be,” he told the Guardian.

    Professor Strumia. CERN

    Strumia, a physicist of the University of Pisa, was suspended for “personal lack of respect” he allegedly displayed during his talk at CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research.

    CERN’s management on Monday met to discuss its future relationship with Professor Strumia and after their meeting issued a statement suspending Strumia with immediate effect pending an investigation for his “unacceptable” presentation.

    CERN expressed “shock” at the “highly offensive” comments made by Professor Strumia in a statement.

    During Strumia’s presentation, he talked about whether Physics was “a community of interest, optimised to understand nature”. His detractors claim he has “ignored data and references to recent studies, particularly those related to gender issues in STEM”.

    Arnaud Marsollier, spokesman for CERN, said: “CERN considers the presentation delivered by an invited scientist during a workshop as highly offensive and supports the many members of the community that have expressed their indignation.”

    “The [scientific] community is in shock,” Marsollier told The Telegraph. “We know physics is dominated by males. This workshop was organised to make progress and that’s why we find it so shocking. We feel it should not happen in future.”

    In the European scientific community, for every one woman, there are two men.

    “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,” a statement by CERN noted. “Cern always strives to carry out its scientific mission in a peaceful and inclusive environment,” it continued.

    Prof Strumia defended his comments despite the numerous attacks mainly from British women on him as the audience mostly comprised English-speaking female physicists.

    He told the Guardian that his detractors were “trying to paint me as a monster who discriminates against women” but said his presentation was about “facts” in response to statements made about men discriminating against women.

    According to Strumia, data showed male and female scientists were equally cited in presentations, and women were even favoured when it came to job hiring. “This is not the message they wanted [to hear] at this conference,” he added.

    During his talk he said at least female researchers in Italy tended to benefit from either “free or cheaper university” education, while the expensive Oxford University in England “extends exam times for women’s benefit”.

    He said one female participant at the event had claimed that the sphere of physics was second only to the military for sexual abuse, which was “totally absurd”.

    “These people are so worried about problems that don’t exist. What I actually said has good purpose. We are not discriminating, women have been helped for years,” Strumia explained.

    Dr Jessica Wade, a physicist at Imperial College London who also spoke at the conference, tweeted her disgust at Strumia. “Short summary of Strumia’s talk: women aren’t as good at physics as men and they’ve been allocated too much funding/ been promoted into positions of power unfairly. He said this to an audience of early career #womeninSTEM,” she said.

    According to Wade, women in the room had their feelings hurt. She added that he had focused only on “discredited research” which showed that the number of citations for a physicist was a metric for ability.

    Professor Anne-Christine Davis of Cambridge University, called his comment “absolutely outrageous” for “this day and age”.

    But male participants defended Strumia’s right to an opinion. He may “well be wrong” but that did not warrant removal, said Nic Macdonald. “It should be responded to scientifically, and politically, not removed as ‘highly offensive’,” Macdonald tweeted.

    CERN is currently led by a female physicist who is no stranger to controversy herself. When director-general Fabiola Gianotti, announced the discovery of the Higgs Boson particle in 2012, she chose Comic Sans lettering in the slide presentation of the groundbreaking scientific results.

    Professor Fabiola Gianotti. CERN

    The uproar over the inappropriate use of comic book type was due largely to the importance of the material presented. Comic Sans MS is a sans-serif casual script typeface used largely in comic book lettering, intended mainly for use in informal documents and children’s materials.

    In situations for which it was not intended, the typeface became the subject of mockery.

    In a statement CERN, which had appointed Gianotti in 2016 despite the controversy, said it was a “culturally diverse organisation” that brought people together from dozens of nationalities.

    “It is a place where everyone is welcome, and all have the same opportunities, regardless of ethnicity, beliefs, gender or sexual orientation,” the statement said.

    Slides from Strumia’s presentation at the conference on high energy physics and gender in Genoa on Friday has since been taken down from the CERN website “in line with a code of conduct that does not tolerate personal attacks and insults”. The slides were wiped from the website by Gianotti, who has described Strumia’s presentation as “highly offensive”.

    Attendees however noted that Strumia’s views have been widely known for a while.

    In his slideshow which has circulated online, he noted that women like Marie Curie, were “welcomed only after showing what they can do…”

    Keep ​your language polite​. Readers from many different countries visit and contribute to Free West Media and we must therefore obey the rules in​,​ for example​, ​Germany. Illegal content will be deleted.

    If you have been approved to post comments without preview from FWM, you are responsible for violation​s​ of​ any​ law. This means that FWM may be forced to cooperate with authorities in a possible crime investigation.

    If your comments are subject to preview ​by FWM, please be patient. We continually review comments but depending on the time of day it can take up to several hours before your comment is reviewed.

    We reserve the right to del​ete​ comments that are offensive, contain slander or foul language, or are irrelevant to the discussion.

    Europe

    Swedish mother sexually assaulted outside asylum centre – media censored her description of the attacker

    DOCUMENTARYBoth media and the police refused to publish her description of an Afghani perpetrator after Mikaela, 40, was subjected to a rape attempt outside the asylum centre in a small village called Deje. Watch the Swedish documentary about the case with English subtitles.

    After Strasburg ‘the Yellow Vests must stop’ says Minister of Justice

    StrasburgAsked about the continued demonstrations by Yellow Vests in the context of the latest Strasbourg terror attack, French Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet said the movement "must stop", because President Emmanuel Macron has provided "answers" to their demands.

    Bamberg: Arrest warrants against migrants who wanted to kill policemen

    BambergGerman police in Bamberg had to send in reinforcements to end a migrant riot in the asylum reception center of the town. In the night of Tuesday even special forces were called in to bring the situation under control.

    Belgium faces government crisis as result of UN Global Migration Compact

    BrusselsThe dispute over the UN Compact on Migration has led to the end of the coalition government in Belgium. Unfazed, Prime Minister Charles Michel plans to continue as part of a minority government and will sign the agreement.

    An anti-immigration billboard campaign hits the streets of Brussels

    BrusselsA Hungarian counter-campaign has been launched against EU migrant propaganda spearheaded by EU heavyweight Guy Verhofstad, and is spreading on social media.

    Bullying and harassment at Sweden’s new Gender Equality Agency

    Sweden is often synonymous with feminist fanaticism. The country's Gender Equality Agency was opened in January this year and is thus one of its newest agencies. However, even before the government could celebrate a year, 70 percent of the staff are at risk of ill health and more than half suffer from burnout and fatigue. It seems the agency's disastrous workplace culture is related to its staunchly feminist leadership. There is not a single man in the "equal" management group.

    Macron and his wife discuss decorations with media while country burns

    ParisBetween the first two Saturdays of massive demonstrations by the Yellow Vests, Emmanuel and Brigitte Macron were redecorating their palace. They invited guests to the new "dialogue space" from which the Yellow Vests were conspicuously absent.

    German government funds brochure attacking natural gender roles

    BerlinIn true Stasi fashion, the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs in Germany has allegedly been funding a brochure for young children encouraging them to spy on their conservative parents.

    Macron backs down on climate change fuel tax

    ParisFrench President Emmanuel Macron has called for a six-month suspension of the government's proposed "climate change" fuel tax, backing down in the face of angry Yellow Vest protests throughout France for more than three weeks.

    After failed referendum Swiss anti-immigration party fears EU takeover

    BernAfter a failed sovereignist referendum in Switzerland on the encroaching powers of Brussels, the largest party in the Swiss parliament warned that the country was now facing a "massive erosion" of their unique democracy.

    Go to archive