We write here first to state, in the strongest possible terms, that the humanity of any person, regardless of ascribed identities such as race, ethnicity, gender identity, religion, disability, gender presentation, or sexual identity is not up for debate. Physics and science are part of the shared inheritance of all people, as much as art, music, and literature, and we should strive to ensure that everyone has a fair opportunity to become a scientist. The question of discrimination based on ascribed identity is a moral one, and we write to affirm that discrimination is not a welcome feature of our field, however pervasive it may be. It is clear that our social environment disparately affects the participation of people with ascribed identities that have been traditionally marginalized, and the fields of women’s and gender studies, science and society studies, physics education research, anthropology, sociology, philosophy, and Black studies have had much to say over the years about how this marginalization operates. The thin veneer of scientific rigor with which Strumia’s talk began was followed by open discrimination and personal attacks, which we condemn unconditionally.

Secondly, we write to strongly express our view that the science case presented by Strumia was fundamentally unsound. It is clear to all of us that Strumia is not an expert on these topics and is misusing his physics credentials to put himself forward as one. Furthermore, those among us who are familiar with the relevant literature know that Strumia's conclusions are in stark disagreement with those of experts. 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 origin and validity of the data he presented have not yet been corroborated, but even if we take it at face value in all cases there are obvious alternative explanations that have been developed in the aforementioned social science disciplines that were not controlled for, and that are directly in contradiction with his conclusions. Here are some examples, in the order they appear in the presentation:

  1. Strumia argues that the larger fraction of women in the humanities compared to the sciences is evidence against discrimination in the sciences, purportedly because the distinction between right and wrong is “less clear” in the humanities, and thus it would be easier to discriminate there if people wanted to. In addition to the academic arrogance of this argument, it makes no attempt to control for the obvious alternative that there are fewer women in the sciences because of systemic discouragement and discrimination. And indeed the presence of such discouragement and discrimination has been well-documented in many places, for example see e.g. Hodari et al. (1), Johnson et al. (2), and the recent NASEM report (3) on sexual harassment in academic sciences, engineering and medicine

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