Sexual Harassment in Physics

I was very impressed by your decision to publish the April 2019 Back Page feature on harassment and troubling encounters at a DNP meeting as well as the May 2019 article "Yes, Sexual Harassment Still Drives Women out of Physics." This is an important issue that I am glad to see APS is willing to draw attention to and encourage discussion about.

I was less impressed, however, by the responses to these articles published in the ”Letters to the Editor” section of the June 2019 issue. Most troubling to me is that, although these articles speak largely to the experience of women in physics, the three letters that were published on the topic were all written by men. The deep-seated, sexist notion that men's opinions are worth more than women's is one of the biases that feeds the very issues APS News was trying to draw attention to with these recent articles. To see this troubling idea reinforced a mere month after these eye-opening articles, by the same news outlet that published them, is depressing to say the least.

If you have received feedback from women about your recent articles on harassment, please consider publishing them. And if you haven't received such feedback, please consider soliciting it.

Emma Oxford
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The June issue of APS News featured three letters discussing previous issues' treatment of sexual harassment in physics. I was disappointed to see that all three letters were from men, two of them making all-too-common remarks to the effect of "well how do we know that sexual harassment is a real issue in physics?" The clear and persistent gender gap in our field should make it obvious that there are barriers to women's success in physics, and we should trust our female colleagues when they tell us what those barriers are. It worries me that APS News would choose to publish three letters from men, and no letters from women commenting on this issue.

Adam Iaizzi
Taipei, Taiwan

Editor's note: I sincerely thank the authors of these letters for the feedback. As the June 2019 issue of APS News went to press, we had received only three letters about the articles cited and these were the letters we published. We encourage readers to send letters about any matters related to articles in APS News to

APS encourages the redistribution of the materials included in this newspaper provided that attribution to the source is noted and the materials are not truncated or changed.

Editor: David Voss
Staff Science Writer: Leah Poffenberger
Contributing Correspondent: Alaina G. Levine
Publication Designer and Production: Nancy Bennett-Karasik

August/September 2019 (Volume 28, Number 8)

APS News Home

Issue Table of Contents

APS News Archives

Contact APS News Editor

Articles in this Issue
2020 APS Medal for Exceptional Achievement in Research Awarded to Myriam P. Sarachik
Physical Review Research Publishes its First Papers
APS Membership Unit Profile: The Division of Soft Matter
APS Innovation Fund: Inaugural Winners Selected
Seven Apker Award Finalists Show Off their Research Skills
Matthew Blackman Named 2019 PhysTEC Teacher of the Year
John Robert Schrieffer 1931-2019
Education and Diversity News
This Month in Physics History
Outreach and Public Engagement
Office of Government Affairs
FYI: Science Policy News from AIP
Letters to the Editor
The Back Page