University of Chicago Defends Its Efforts to Increase Women in STEM Fields

Dario Maestripieri, a professor of comparative human development and evolutionary biology at the University of Chicago, created a stir last week when he posted comments on his personal Facebook page while attending the Conference of the Society of Neuroscience in New Orleans. The comments included the following statement: “There are thousands of people at the conference and an unusually high concentration of unattractive women. The super model types are completely absent. What is going on? Are unattractive women particularly attracted to neuroscience? Are beautiful women particularly uninterested in the brain?”

In response, Thomas F. Rosenbaum, provost at the University of Chicago, released a statement, which read in part: “The University does not speak for individual faculty members, and will not take a position on the opinions expressed by our faculty. At the same time, faculty members do not speak for the University.”

Dr. Rosenbaum continued by saying, “Over the past few years, the University of Chicago has made significant strides in strengthening the climate for women faculty. We have placed a particular focus on women in the sciences, as demonstrated in the Women in Science Project, which brings women faculty together to present their research; and the Women in the Physical Sciences Committee, created to enhance the representation and advancement of women at all levels of their careers. Last year we launched a partnership with Northwestern University to create the Chicago Collaboration for Women in STEM, with programs aimed at supporting career advancement. The University of Chicago continues to pursue this work vigorously. Our future relies on our ability to attract talented women and men and support their best work.”

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