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Tuesday, April 9th, 2013 11:23 am
I just received the American Physical Society's monthly newsletter, APS News. In the "Letters" section, they published a letter entitled "Nothing Wrong with Fewer Women Physicists" by someone names Jeffery Winkler from Hanford, CA. Winkler was evidently "shocked" by a February article about how encouraging women to pursue careers in physics is a priority for the APS.

I won't try to formally rebut his arguments, but it's like shooting fish in a barrel: this guy thinks he's boldly standing up for some moral principle, but his entire letter is a classic example of sexism and ignorance. He insists that targeting any particular male/female ratio is equally wrong, whether 50/50 or 100/0. He then says, and I'm not making this up, that nurses, elementary teachers, and secretaries are 90% women and "Nobody thinks that's a problem." So clearly, he says, it's just as unreasonable to push for greater equality among physicists.

I have no idea how this tripe got published in the newsletter; maybe they were low on content this month. (I've already written to ask.) Not that I'd object to having a serious discussion about how and why we should encourage women to study physics! But this clearly isn't an example of that. Instead, it's an example of how much sexism is still present in the physics community and of how that sexism gets reinforced. And that's deeply frustrating.

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